Nationally ranked XC shines at Letchworth

Head coach Mike Woods has led the cross country team to a high national ranking, giving the runners a chance to contend at the NCAA meet in November.
Head coach Mike Woods has led the cross country team to a high national ranking, giving the runners a chance to contend at the NCAA meet in November.

Victory on Saturday Oct. 4 was especially sweet for the Geneseo men’s and women’s cross country teams. Not only did the teams put themselves in an excellent position going forward for the rest of the season, but the win came on home turf at Letchworth State Park. Coming off great performances at the Pre-NCAA meet on Sept. 27, the Knights had a tough job ahead of them. They had a week from Sept. 27 to prepare for the Geneseo Invitational, the yearly meet held at Letchworth. Even with such a quick turnaround, both teams put up stellar performances. The men’s and the women’s teams both placed first out of 21 and 19 teams, respectively.

“I was very happy with our results,” head coach Mike Woods said. “We were able to tighten the pack. We were able to cut [our pack time] in half from last week.”

The only reason that the men’s time was so much closer at the Geneseo Invitational as opposed to the Pre-NCAA meet was that senior Cohen Miles-Rath, while still running a very good time at 25:10.4, ran the race of his life at the Pre-NCAA meet.

Transfer sophomore Alfredo Mazzuca ran a second ahead of Miles-Rath, leading the men’s team into the finish. This was Mazzuca’s first time finishing first for the Knights. Behind Mazzuca and Miles-Rath were junior Brendan Wortner and sophomore Adam Murphy with times of 25:11.1 and 25:14.4. Freshman Isaac Garcia-Cassani was the fifth finisher for the men with a time of 25:33.2.

The women also had a close cluster of finishers. Their first five in––senior Cassie Goodman, senior Alyssa Knott, senior Joanna Castrogivanni, sophomore Marissa Bellusci and junior Jacquie Huben––all finished within 45 seconds of each other. Goodman was the first finisher overall with a time of 21:29.4—beating second place by an incredible 14 seconds.

With the utter domination at Letchworth behind them, the teams now look ahead to the Inter-Regional Rumble in Oberlin, Ohio on Oct. 18. For now, however, they can put that on the back burner. The most important thing for both teams now is that they rest and recover their bodies and minds.

“I think that this break is coming at a good midpoint in the season,” Goodman said. “A weekend off to mentally revamp like this will be good for everyone.” After having four races over these past four weekends including the Pre-NCAAs, all of the athletes can recover both physically and mentally. “Your brain is a muscle too, so giving that a bit of a break is always good,” Goodman said.

With fall break on the horizon, the Knights can look back on a half season for the books. Both teams have nine total top-five finishes, with the women winning the Pre-NCAAs and the men placing second. With those finishes, the Knights look to be in excellent standing with the national polls. Both teams are currently ranked in the top 10. When the NCAA Tournament comes in mid-November, this will work in Geneseo’s favor. The men’s and women’s teams both could be poised to end up on the podium.

“I think we have a really good shot––both teams––to end up on the podium this season. It’s totally doable,” Goodman said. The seniors’ last shot for a championship looks to be in a great place heading into the break, as long as the Knights refuse to let up.