As the season progresses, both the Geneseo men’s and women’s cross country teams are producing promising results. At the Purple Valley Classic in Williamstown, Mass. on Sept. 23, the men placed first and the women third, both out of 26 teams.
This past weekend, on Saturday Sept. 30 at home in Letchworth State Park for the Mike Woods Invitational, both teams placed first—the men out of 18 teams and the women out of 14 teams.
Due to these results, it seems like the teams have reached the pinnacle of success—with little room for improvement—however head coach Dan Moore believes the teams can progress more this season.
“We haven’t even done any specific work so far this season,” Moore explained. “These races have served mainly as aerobic training. There is much to be done, and considerable improvement to be made.”
Similarly, senior runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani—who placed first out of 324 runners in the Purple Valley Classic with a 14 second margin over second place—does not think he’s reached his full potential yet.
“It was definitely a confidence boost to win by such a significant margin in my debut for the season, but I can see that there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of specific eight [kilometer] fitness and race strategy,” Garcia-Cassani said.
If the teams are able to build on their already considerable success, it will be an impressive sight.
As for the more recent race, Moore believes racing at Letchworth affected the teams positively.
“They all get really excited about racing at home,” Moore said. “With the alumni running also, the teams get to see those who came before them, which is truly something special. Racing in our own backyard is great, and they all want to perform well for their friends and families.”
Junior runner Elise Ramirez enjoyed racing at home and seeing members of the campus community at the meet.
“It definitely boosts your confidence to be running on a course you know better than any other team, and it’s really nice to see Geneseo students and professors cheering on the side,” Ramirez said.
The teams’ finishes in this meet showed that this comfort and enthusiasm translated into a great accomplishment.
Moore mentioned Ramirez as one of the most impressive runners for the women’s team and commented that he is inspired by the entire men’s side.
“Without a doubt Ramirez will be All-American this year. Also, all of our men are watertight,” Moore said, “None of this is surprising to me. It’s merely a validation that we are as good as we think.”
Cross country is a unique sport in that runners are left completely alone with their thoughts; channeling these thoughts with an upbeat attitude is key to success. Ramirez has a routine to help her ease into races.
“My favorite part about races is about a minute into the race, the moment when everyone relaxes into pace right after basically sprinting off the start line,” Ramirez said. “This is when I stop feeling so nervous about what is to come and really focus on what is happening in the present moment; it’s just a really calming feeling.”
Moore has wise words that he gives to runners to help them better themselves: “What I tell all the athletes is to find your ‘why.’ Why are you running? Why are you enduring this discomfort? Why are you pushing through the pain? Once they find their ‘why,’ they can finally find peace of mind in running,” Moore said.
Some of the teams go to Elsah, Illinois for the Cowbell Classic and others will race in Rochester at the Yellow Jacket Invitational on Oct. 14.u