The 34th-annual Geneseo Invitational at Letchworth State Park served as more than a cross-country meet: It was a reunion for many on Saturday Sept. 29.
Alumnus Lee Berube ‘12 as well as classmate and current assistant coach Alyssa Smith placed first for the men’s and women’s races, respectively. Bobby Henchen ’11 and classmate Bill Juda competed with Berube and Smith in the annual meet. According to head coach Mike Woods, typically there is a larger alumni showing.
The decrease in attendance wasn’t noticeable, though. Besides alumni, professors joined in the annual competition as well. In fall 2011, the Geneseo Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation began an initiative where each senior student-athlete selects one faculty member who, according to a department news release, “has influenced their growth and development at Geneseo.” Although many of the cross-country runners also participate in track and field in the winter and spring seasons, the seniors only select one professor over their final year.
The 14 senior runners selected professor Jonathan Hager of physics, professor Donald Marozas and adjunct lecturer Dean June of the School of Education, visiting assistant professor David Holtzman and associate professor Kristina Hannam of biology and adjunct instructor Rocio Vallejo of languages and literatures, among others.
“I think that’s really important that we show our professors that we support them when they let us miss class or let us make up an exam for whenever we have an athletic competition,” said senior Danae Polsin, who selected Distinguished Teaching Professor of Physics Stephen Padalino. “I think it’s important to create a good relationship between athletics and academics because it’s important they both support one another.”
According to senior Alex Brimstein, associate professor of philosophy Stacey Edgar “pulled [him] toward philosophy” – the degree he will complete in May 2013.
“She’s really kind of a captivating professor and is really enthusiastic about everything she teaches, so it’s easy just to … get absorbed in the class and learn,” Brimstein said.
The Webster, N.Y. native completed the eight-kilometer course in 24 minutes, 40.20 seconds. In his first meet against Berube, Brimstein trailed him but said he closed the gap well at the end, finishing only 11.40 seconds behind the All-American.
After Brimstein, 19 additional Geneseo runners – including both current and alumni – crossed the finish line before another school did. Timothy McGowan of Houghton College was the closest competitor, placing 22nd overall in 27:22.10.
“Both teams’ times were extremely good, especially the women,” Woods said. “The women have taken a little more to develop than the men have, but all of a sudden, the women are where I knew they could be.”
On the women’s side following Smith, senior Emily Sullivan placed third overall in 22:22.60. Polsin, senior Brigid Heenan, junior Mary Aldridge, freshman Ashton Hughes, junior Rebekah Steinke, sophomore Alyssa Knott and senior Esther Lok filled the top 10 within a minute of Sullivan’s finish.
Since the Geneseo Invitational is the only home meet of the year for the Knights, other student-athletes came in support of their peers. Notable appearances include those of the track and field team as well as Blue Wave swimmers.
The cross-country teams take a week off for fall break before heading to Oberlin, Ohio for a meet on Saturday Oct. 13.