Geneseo men’s and women’s cross country teams each had an incredibly impressive showing at the NCAA Division III Championships. The meet was hosted by Principia College in Elsah, Ill., and it further propelled the team’s legacy.
The 2017 championships, held on Nov. 18, mark the 15th consecutive appearance for the men’s team and the 19th consecutive appearance for the women’s team. This is the longest streak for one school with two qualifying teams in DIII.
Senior runner Isaac Garcia-Cassani was Geneseo’s top finisher for the men’s team. He finished 6th out of over 200 runners with a time of 24:32.24 for an 8km race.
“I felt pretty good about my own race,” Garcia-Cassani said. “The guys in front of me set a pace I knew I couldn’t hold, but aside from that I felt I raced well.”
This was the third consecutive top 10 finish for Garcia-Cassani at the national championships as well as a great way to cap off his time on the Geneseo cross country team.
For the women’s team, the top finisher was senior runner Kristen Homeyer, who finished in 32nd place. She ran a 6km race in 21:30.50.
“It was an exciting end to my cross country career at Geneseo,” Homeyer said. “I am still happy with disbelief that my hard work paid off.”
The men took 11th place at the NCAA Championships. The overall result was “slightly disappointing,” Garcia-Cassani said because “we had been ranked in the top three for most of the season.”
The team finished in second place last season, the highest ranking in program history, but the men’s team can still take considerable pride in their season.
The women took 6th place and were similarly proud of their top-ten finish.
Garcia-Cassani said it was an off-day for many of the athletes.
“We all ran pretty well considering and I’m proud of the whole squad,” Garcia-Cassani said.
Both the men’s and women’s runners appreciated the unwavering support they received from the rest of the team.
“We had 70 people who weren’t racing make a 12-hour drive to St. Louis just to cheer us on,” Garcia-Cassani said. “Left and right, we had other teams tell us that they wish they had a cheer squad like that.”
Geneseo cross country is known for their enthusiasm and volunteering for a long car ride is just one example of how the teams’ bond. This network of team identity is integral to the success of both the men’s and women’s programs.
The teams show that close personal connections help athletic performance.
“We’ve been positively encouraging each other, helping our individual performances, but also the overall vibe of the team,” Homeyer said.
Throughout the season, all of the athletes were required to make sacrifices in order to compete at the highest level. They needed to eat correctly and make sure to get enough sleep to run well, which certainly interfered with social plans. Balancing school, social responsibilities and running is not easy.
“That’s exactly how we get to be such a powerhouse year after year on the national scale,” Garcia-Cassani said.
Although the season is over now, Geneseo cross country aims to continue its dominance at the national level next season. Many of the cross country athletes—men and women—will continue to represent Geneseo by running for the track and field team in the upcoming winter and spring seasons.u