Cross country places 2nd, 3rd at nationals

The NCAA DIII Cross Country Championships were held in Louisville, Kentucky on Nov. 19. Both the men’s and women’s teams showed up with high expectations and competitive attitudes in order to leave with success. The Geneseo men’s cross country team took 2nd place while the Geneseo women’s cross country team took 3rd place. Coming into the day, the men’s team was seeded 2nd and the women’s team was seeded 3rd. Both teams affirmed their respective seeding with their performance, which is “a testament to the athletes’ hard work and dedication,” according to head coach Dan Moore. Though the Knights were hoping to win 1st place, it is still an incredible feat to run equal to their seed.

“We thought we could try to go for the national championship on the men’s side and the women’s side, and they came up just short. It’s not what our athletes didn’t do, it’s just how good the other teams ran,” Moore said.

The teams ran as expected and to their fitness level; it came down to the other schools running better than what was expected for them. In hindsight, the women could have finished 2nd if they had chosen to run conservatively, but the Knights decided to run to win and to give 100 percent. Nevertheless, both the men’s and women’s teams made it to the podium, which is a great accomplishment not only for the individuals, but also for Geneseo.

Moore won the Cross Country Coach of the Year award for the Atlantic region for both the men’s and women’s categories.

“It’s a peer recognized accomplishment, but it’s nothing that I’m doing,” Moore said. “It’s a testament to the athletes’ hard work, and it’s not just me, it’s the whole coaching staff.”

Moore thinks that because the athletes believe in what they want to do and what the coaches are laying down, success naturally follows that attitude.

Next season will be very different for the men’s and women’s teams. The men’s team is returning a strong core of athletes who competed this year. They have three levels of goals they hope to accomplish: they want to get on the podium again, they would like to repeat the performance of this year and they would like to win the championship. The last goal is the loftiest, but a very strong possibility for a group of runners that talented.

The women’s team has seven seniors graduating this year, so next season will be one of reloading and readjusting.

“It is an opportunity for the younger individuals to step up, to take on leadership roles and to be the face of Geneseo cross country,” Moore said.

Those graduating will have to lead and show the new athletes the ropes, but they seem more than up to the task. It will be the group of girls that do return who decide what the program will be in the upcoming years. They hope to get to nationals and, again, to finish on the podium.

Moore concluded expressing his “excitement for next year” as well as the “challenges ahead.” Both the men’s and women’s teams performed outstandingly, even if they didn’t come home with the first place trophy.

Cross country prepares for national meet in Kentucky

Despite the mid-semester struggles that students are enduring—with the only cure, of course, being Thanksgiving break—the Geneseo cross country team remains as focused as ever. The team will compete in the NCAA Division III Championships in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday Nov. 19, and both the men and women have a good shot at winning it all. The successes this team accomplished this season have been well deserved, but not as well recognized as they should have been. Still, the Knights are making Geneseo proud and are contributing to Geneseo’s thriving cross country program.

“We’re building upon the successes of the past, and success breeds success,” head coach Dan Moore said. “I’ve been lucky enough to inherit a program with this culture already in place.”

The team must improve upon their physical practice and mental practice, according to Moore. The training of a runner’s legs is just as important as the training of a runner’s mind. The team uses the word “believe” as their mantra to keep pushing forward.

“The athletes believe in the training, they believe in the philosophy, they believe in each other and that’s why it’s so easy to keep that culture going,” Moore said.

To keep his athletes working hard, every year Moore tells them to reinvent themselves. This remaking, to Moore, can be in volume or in the pace that they run. Consequently, Moore and the athletes themselves need to believe that they can improve on their own—they cannot rely on other team members, as they must put in all of their individual effort.

Because cross country is such an individual sport, people think that it’s an isolated sport—but that’s untrue. The athletes have a lot of support from both their peers and their coaches. There are three coaches on staff for cross country and they all meet with the runners individually in order to go over their specific needs for the next race or for the season as a whole.

“Whether it’s me, coach Wach or coach Popovici who meets with them, I know they’re in good hands and that they are preparing them for the best performance that they can,” Moore said.

By setting up meetings with the runners, they can work with each athlete’s perspectives and attitudes since everyone has a different mentality and motivation. Getting to know the runners over the course of their four years at Geneseo is incredibly important for helping them to grow as an athlete.

In addition to the individual meetings, they also have team meetings everyday in order to remind the runners of the purpose of what they’re doing.

“These teams are very supportive of each other and they’re working incredibly hard, and now on Saturday we’re going to try to place as high as we can. It’s exciting,” Moore said.

Whatever happens on Saturday Nov. 19, however, will not diminish this season’s excellence for the cross country program.

Cross country claims another SUNYAC title

Despite a long and dominating season, both of the Geneseo cross country teams are far from done competing this year. The men and women both claimed titles as SUNYAC champions on Saturday Oct. 29 at Letchworth State Park. The men’s team finished with 23 points, having six runners finish in the top 10, and three in the top five. Junior Isaac Garcia-Cassani added another first place finish, with a final time of 24:54.1. This finish gives him an incredible total of five first place finishes for the season. Seniors Alfredo Mazzuca and Alex Kramer finished in second and third with times of 25:05.8 and 25:22.4, respectively.

The women’s team finished with 28 points and had five top 10 finishers cement their victory. Senior Sara Rosenzweig finished in first with a time of 21:46.6, while senior Marissa Cossaro came in right behind with a second place finish and a time of 21:51.0.

Claiming the titles as SUNYAC champions is a great accomplishment, adding to the impressive success the teams have had over the years. This history of winning has been an important factor in the success of both the current Geneseo cross-country teams and to the individual runners themselves. “I’m a firm believer that success breeds success,” head coach Dan Moore said.

The teams’ success is in some part due to the unity that they have and their sense of group achievement. “This team is special; it’s the most compassionate, supportive group of individuals that anyone could ask for,” Moore said.

Moore also pointed to the leadership of two of his top runners, Garcia-Cassani and Rosenzweig, as a contributing factor to the success of the teams. “They do all of the little things, but they do them better,” Moore said.

Assistant coach Ben Wach added to the praise of Rosenzweig, saying that she has confidence in the team, the coach and their training. This confidence is vital to competing at their level and gives the Knights a great edge.

Moore put the effect that Garcia-Cassani has on the team in a simple statement: “He’s the most savvy racer I’ve ever seen, not just as a coach, but in competitions as well.” With five first place finishes this season alone, it is easy to see why he is so valuable to the team.

Though the teams should be proud of their accomplishments, the SUNYAC championships were not the final destination; Moore is looking ahead to compete nationally. These few weeks before the Atlantic Regional Championships on Nov. 12 are not for celebrating their most recent victory; they are for preparation.

Moore has a great deal of confidence in these teams and their ability to succeed this year. Geneseo should hope to see the team have another dominant performance and push through to greater competition.

“It’s time to recover, time to sharpen and time to get fast,” Moore said.

Cross country exudes confidence, consistency

Geneseo saw both of the Knights cross-country squads preparing for the postseason with a run at the Inter-Regional Border Battle, hosted in Rowan, New Jersey on Saturday Oct. 15. While the meet was more of a preparation and water-tester than a full-blown race, both squads performed well. The men ran to another first place victory, while the women finished third amidst a tougher field of competitors.

Junior Isaac Garcia-Cassani yet again crossed the line first, with a time of 23:19.9 to extend his first-place streak to four. He led the Knights to a commanding victory; totaling 71 to outpace second place No. 5 Massachusetts Institute of Technology with 127 points. This win is the men’s fifth of the season, and will help continue their hold onto the No. 1 national ranking heading into the postseason.

On thoughts about the impending SUNYAC Championships for the squad, head coach Dan Moore has no plans for his team to lighten the pace.

“My challenge to them is Geneseo versus the rest of the field: the entire SUNYAC field’s score against ours,” Moore said. “The support is also going to be huge, in the 100s, and include athletic teams like track and field, and regulars in the community … The team is going to be really pumped for the end of the month.”

Moore said he thinks the cross country teams will slide right through regionals. While Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Saint Lawrence University and New York University have strong teams, Geneseo is dominating. “Our battle is with [No. 2] North Central University at nationals,” Moore said. “They have the most successful and historical program in Division III cross country history. They are good, but I think right now we’re better. It’s going to be a battle, we’re favored, but they have a No. 1 runner that can run with Isaac [Garcia-Cassani]. We have to wait and see what happens.”

On the women’s side, a third place finish among a field of 46 shows that they’re still at the top, but have a tremendous amount of competition moving forward.

“I knew John Hopkins University was the team to beat; they’ve only raced [Division] I competition all year, and for whatever reason they were being underrepresented in the polls,” Moore said.

In fact, it was that same No. 4 John Hopkins team that took first at the pre-regional for the women, putting up 70 points and outpacing No. 2 MIT with 134 and third place Geneseo with 136. Seniors Marissa Cossaro and Sara Rosenzweig crossed ninth and 10th overall and helped secure third place for the Knights.

“[John Hopkins] came out very strong and put seven in front of our third. We were without one of our top runners, and we’re training on tired legs,” Moore said. “They freshened up for this meet, but we are going to be on top of them at nationals. If they think they have us beat, they have something else coming.”

Geneseo will return to action at the end of the month at Letchworth State Park for the SUNYAC Championships on Oct. 29.

Cross country clenches home field win

Another week meant another outstanding performance by the men’s and women’s cross country teams. Hosting the Mike Woods Invitational at Letchworth State Park on Saturday Oct. 1, both teams once again claimed victory for Geneseo, and did so dominantly in front of a home crowd. The Geneseo men finished with 17 points, putting them well ahead of SUNY Oswego, who finished second with 108. Junior Isaac Garcia-Cassani crossed the line first for the third time this year with a time of 24:39.5, leading his team to their fourth first place finish of the year.

“Isaac [Garcia-Cassani] is a fantastic athlete and he’s definitely one of the top guys in the country. In my opinion, there are only a couple of guys in the country that can run with him,” assistant coach Ben Wach said.

The men’s squad were able to put up eight of the 10 top runners from the invitational—only thwarted by Geneseo alumni and outdoor-track 5k record holder Lee Berube ’12—from obtaining a perfect score for the event. Wach also lends an immense amount of praise for the team.

“To put three people ahead of [Lee Berube] and two shortly behind was a great accomplishment for us, considering his athletic ability,” Wach said. “One person to highlight is [senior] Matt Jorgensen, who ran his first all-out 8k since his freshmen year and performed spectacularly with his sixth place finish.”

The women’s squad also found themselves with an equal amount of success, claiming their third win of the season. Leading the charge for Geneseo was senior Sara Rosenzweig, whose second place overall finish with a time of 21:50.6 was the forefront of Geneseo’s top five finishers, as she placed in the top 10 once again. The Knights finished with 22 points, beating out second place Elizabethtown College who had 55.

Both squads hope to keep their number one national rankings after the dual first place finishes and are already looking ahead to the post-season.

“Ultimately, we’re not too concerned with the rankings,” Wach said. “The main thing we look toward is our finish at nationals. We’re more pleased with the performance of the teams than the rankings themselves.”

The Knights show no signs of budging from their number one ranking; they have even adopted an interesting strategy for the last regular season meet of the year.

“We’ll be splitting our squads at the Pre-Atlantic Regionals,” Wach said. “Some are going to compete against Division I squads at Conesus Lake to show off their fitness, and others who we feel will benefit more from running the Regional Course at Rowen [Glassboro, N.J.] will compete at the regional … We pride ourselves in being able to run our best at the end of the season—our main concern is setting ourselves up to compete at nationals.”