The men’s and women’s cross country teams both had stellar finishes at the Purple Valley Classic hosted by Williams College. The men finished in third place out of 24 teams and the women came in fourth place out of 18 teams.
Freshman Olivia Ryan came in first place for the women—eighth overall—with a time of 22:25.3. Sophomore Isaac Garcia-Cassani came in first for the men—fourth overall—with a time of 25:49.9.
The men come out of this invitational in an excellent position on the national stage going forward. After this event, they are ranked eighth in the nation.
“The men really showed the rest of the country that Geneseo is for real. I think we have a shot of ending up in the top five after this week,” head coach Dan Moore said. “The men looked around, saw other teams that have placed at nationals have had similar races and times and they though ‘Why not us?’ So they are getting really excited about the idea of placing at nationals.”
The men have every reason to be excited. The race on Saturday Sept. 26 featured seven teams that were ranked in the top 26 nationally, but the Knights were able to finish in third. If they are able to keep up this pace, then they will definitely be in contention for a top regional seed.
The women also have high hopes going forward. With their fourth place finish, their path is a little tougher than the men’s. They came into the weekend ranked sixth in the nation and held that spot in the newest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll.
“If we finish second or we finish fourth, it’s only a matter of two seconds. That’s how close we are,” Moore said. “I think we are a top three team in the country and I think our men are getting to that point as well.”
Even though there is still some stiff competition ahead for the both the men’s and the women’s team, the confidence that Moore has worked to instill in his teams is electric.
“They really believe that they are one of the best teams in the country,” he said. “Going ahead with that attitude is going to help tremendously.”
The Mike Woods Invitational at Letchworth State Park will be on Saturday Oct. 3 and the Knights are making sure that they keep their cool.
“We’re going to treat this as any other race. We’re going out there and we’re going to try and win,” Moore said. The team’s mindset about this race—and all of their races—is just what they need to make sure that their national ranking only goes up from here.”
The hope and goal from any season is to win the SUNYAC and then to put up a good showing at the NCAA Tournament. This year, the Knights have much loftier goals. If they keep up their current pace, winning SUNYACs will be a foregone conclusion. Their eyes are on the biggest prize of them all: places on the national podium in November.