Senior Lee Berube won his second consecutive NCAA Atlantic Regional individual title on Nov. 12, as both the men's and women's cross-country teams placed second behind St. Lawrence University.
"I don't think either team had their best race … but that's OK, it shows what a good team we have when we can not be at our best and still come in second," head coach Mike Woods said.
Berube claimed the individual crown in 24 minutes, 41 seconds, just two seconds off the course record and 12 seconds ahead of second place finisher, senior John Johnston of St. Lawrence. Berube has now won every event he's raced in this season.
"[Berube] was just running enough to win. He didn't go all out – he didn't need to," Woods said. "He took over the lead just about where he usually takes over, which is around three miles and then he put in a little surge and that was all he needed. The fourth and fifth mile, especially the fifth mile, were just kind of a cruise for him."
Senior Eddie Novara finished third overall 25:05 with junior Tom Clark, senior Chris Carter and sophomore Chris Moore rounding out the team scoring. Seniors Mark Streb and AJ Corcoran did not have particularly good races, finishing 59th and 92nd, respectively. Streb, especially, will need to improve if the Knights are to place at nationals.
"As [Streb] goes, we go. When he's at his best we're tough to beat and when he's not we still do well, but we can't quite get over the hump," Woods said. "If we can get [Streb] back to where he normally runs and if we can get [Corcoran] back to where he normally runs, we'll beat [St. Lawrence] at nationals."
Senior Alyssa Smith paced the women's squad finishing sixth overall in a time of 22:34, with the pack of senior Ashley Jones, first year Cassie Goodman and juniors Danae Polsin and Emily Sullivan all finishing in the top-30.
With their finishes the Knights secured an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III championships in Winneconne, Wis. It marks the 13th consecutive bid for the women and ninth consecutive for the men.
"That's a streak I want to continue as long as I'm here," Woods said. "Our goal all along was to get to the NCAAs automatically and we did that so it was a successful season."
Although consistency has been a problem recently, at their best, both squads have the ability to compete for podium spots at nationals. Now, it all comes down to health and running the hardest and smartest race possible.
"At the crème de la crème of meets you want them to step up and run their best," Woods said. "If everybody steps up and runs their best I could care less where we finish and if we do run our best the place will take care of itself."
The stakes are even higher for Berube who has a legitimate shot at taking home the individual crown. If he does, it would be the first individual national title won by a Geneseo men's cross-country runner in program history.
"I think [Berube] can win [the national title] but he's going to face better competition than he's had all year. Let's face it, he was not tested by any meet that he ran this year, but he's going to be tested out there and he knows that," Woods said. "I'm positive he's ready. He's going to have to go to his other gear … We know he's got it, he knows he's got it."
The Knights, along with their fans, left for Wisconsin on Nov. 16 in preparation for the national meet on Nov. 19.
"They're the best. They inspire us," Woods said about the Geneseo fans. "I don't think they understand just how much they do inspire us. We're the only ones. No other school has the support like we have. It really is inspirational. You know what? They're going to be out there in Wisconsin too.