It’s business as usual for the Geneseo men’s and women’s cross-country teams as they head to their 11th consecutive national championship, an NCAA record. The Knights received at-large bids from the NCAA to attend the national race in Hanover, Ind. on Saturday Nov. 23. In the regional race on Saturday Nov. 16 at Letchworth State Park, neither team was able to earn an automatic bid, as the men came in third and the women came in fourth.
The teams came into this season unsure of what their destiny would be. The men lost many runners to graduation last year, including All-American Alex Brimstein ‘13, leaving the bulk of this year’s team in the hands of underclassmen. The women, similarly, were very inexperienced prior to this season, with runners stepping out of their comfort zones to uphold the standard.
Head coach Mike Woods saw this transition coming and decided to change things up. He said he kept the intensity of the workouts longer into the season than normal, and the runners responded surprisingly well.
“My athletes fed back to me that they felt fresher,” Woods said.
Even with the change between this year and last on both teams, the expectations never changed.
“There was no question that [we would make it],” co-captain junior Cassie Goodman said about making the NCAAs.
“It is hard to say it was sort of a goal because we kind of expected it [given the streak],” co-captain junior Cohen Miles-Rath said. Goodman came in 15th overall for the women and Miles-Rath placed third for the men in the regional race.
This mindset does not come out of nowhere, though. Woods has been at the helm of this Geneseo cross-country program for 22 years and has learned what it takes to get the best performance from his runners.
“[Woods] being really enthusiastic and motivated to get us there motivates us as a team,” Goodman said.
Now that both teams made it to nationals, they can actually relax now.
“There is not a lot of pressure,” Miles-Rath said. “It is more about the experience,” he added. “We run a little bit but we just, like, hangout,” Goodman said. She also mentioned that the girls take time to go shopping on this trip. “There’s not much more training you can really do,” she added.
The upcoming race is at a course Geneseo has been to within its streak.
“It was a pretty tough course, and the times were kind of slow,” Woods said of the last time he was at the course. He, along with his athletes, however, will not be upset if they walk away without a trophy.
“My expectations for them are to have an enjoyable trip, have fun and race as hard as they possibly can,” Woods said. “Let the chips fall where they may.”