With a slew of young runners coming in to replace the 2013 graduating class, one might think this will be a down year for the Geneseo men’s and women’s cross-country teams. Nonetheless, captains juniors Cassie Goodman and Cohen Miles-Rath are ready to help usher in the new runners and pursue the NCAAs.
In high school, runners compete in five-kilometer races, but that number gets larger in college: 6k for the women and 8k for men. “8k is a different animal,” Miles-Rath said. Most people at their first 8k “go out at their 5k [personal record pace] and just die the last 3k, but it’s usual.”
There is definitely a learning curve for the new members, but the captains said they are excited to get them comfortable. “I like being a role model, and I like when people can look up to me,” Goodman said.
Being in the same position not too long ago, Goodman said she feels as though she can offer a lot of help. “Coming to college is a whole new adjustment, so that really motivated me to kind of watch my own habits,” Goodman said. She added that it was comforting to know that others approaching her with issues and that she could help guide them, having been through similar situations herself. Miles-Rath displayed similar feelings, saying, “It’s cool” being in the position he is in.
You might think that having only a handful of upperclassman and knowing the winning tradition Geneseo has - 10 NCAA appearances for the men, 14 for the women - would be nerve-wracking, but that is not the case.
“I am always confident in the team,” Goodman said. “We have a very solid team, very good coaching staff and a deep team [with] a lot of talent.”
“If we didn’t make the nationals, that would be pretty, pretty rough,” Miles-Rath added. It is all or nothing with this team. Even though winning the SUNYAC championship is quite a success for other schools, it seems Geneseo is looking toward the title.
This expectation does not appear out of nowhere. Much of the credit goes to head coach Mike Woods, whom Goodman and Miles-Rath said they wouldn’t be where they are without him.
“He has undying faith. When he believes in you, he does not stop believing in you,” Goodman said. “He cares about his athletes.”
Immediately before a race can be one of the most anxious times for a runner, but “Woodsy” has something about him that helps get the team in the right mindset.
The Knights have their first meet as a full team at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational at Pennsylvania State University Friday Sept. 13. They will compete against a competitive field and even some Division I programs, but it is unlikely that even this will faze them. Even being a young team, the NCAA championship is the goal; everything else is business as usual.
“I know we can [win nationals],” Miles-Rath said. “It’s going to happen.”