Cross Country looks to run into NCAA championship

After stellar finishes from both squads on Saturday Sept. 12 at the Oswego Invitational, the Geneseo men’s and women’s cross country teams are looking ahead with optimism for the rest of the season. The men’s team had 14 of the top 15 finishers at the invitational while the women had seven of the top nine finishers in their race. “Our strategy from the get-go was to start the race as a bunch and to help get the younger runners more used to these type of races, the longer distances,” head coach Dan Moore said. “Then with about a third left of the race, we let them loose and they showed us what they got.”

Sophomore runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani crossed the finish line in first place with a time of 26:23, followed shortly after by junior Alfredo Mazzuca, junior Alex Kramer and senior Brendan Wortner.

For the women, freshman Olivia Ryan crossed the line in first place with a time of 19:36, followed by junior Marissa Bellusci, freshman Elise Ramirez and sophomore Kristen Homeyer. Even though Moore used his giant pack strategy primarily as a tool to help the underclassmen become accustomed to longer distances, all of the runners put forth impressive showings against their competition.

The race allowed the older runners to become more entrenched in their roles as leaders on this young team. The junior and senior athletes—who may not be used to or as interested in the idea of “pack mentality”—used their opportunity to teach the freshmen how to run as a team. The women’s top six had two freshmen and a sophomore among the finishers while the men had four underclassmen in their top 13. The kind of performance the underclassmen gave shows the type of leadership that the older runners are prepared to give to the teams.

“All our athletes executed the game plan perfectly. The ones who were in charge of the pace setting for the pack did a phenomenal job with that. They kept everyone together,” Moore said. “Everyone did their job and because of that we had great finishes all around.”

At their next few races—even though the Knights do not plan on having the same pack strategy—their goals remain the same. They want to have top finishers every time they go out on the race route. This is something that the teams should be able to do at any race the athletes are sent to.

“Every race we run, we go out there with a strategy,” Moore said. “It may not be the same one that we had this past weekend, but there’s always something we’re trying to do and if we can do that, then we always stand a shot at winning.”

A chance at a national championship is a real possibility. If the Knights can continue to perform as they have throughout the rest of the fall, then the rest of the country better be prepared.