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.”

Cross country takes first place against tough competition

The Knights saw another phenomenal performance of the men’s and women’s cross country teams on Saturday Sept. 24 when both squads crossed the finish line first at the Purple Valley Classic hosted by Williams College. This marks the second time this season that the Knights have taken first place in both races. What makes this double first-place more incredible, however, is the field that both Geneseo teams went up against.

“This was a big test for both the teams,” head coach Dan Moore said. “Entering the land of the [New England Small College Athletic Conference] schools to face out of region competition provided both teams an extremely competitive field.”

At the time, the second place nationally ranked men’s squad found themselves up against the third ranked host Williams College, sixth place Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tenth place Amherst College and number 19 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Geneseo blew by some of the top teams in the nation, putting up four of the top 10 runners and scoring 48 points, outpacing runner-up Williams who had 64.

Leading the eight-kilometer charge and grasping first place for the second time of the year was junior Isaac Garcia-Cassani with a time of 25:24.9. Garcia-Cassani’s dominance in recent weeks also landed him the honor of Division III Men’s Cross Country National Athlete of the Week.

The women’s squad also came into the meet ranked second in the nation and had an even more impressive field to face off against: defending national champions Williams, fifth place MIT, sixth place Tufts University, number 10 Wisconsin-La Crosse, number 11 RPI and number 14 Ithaca College.

The women won their race with less of a cushion than their male counterparts, putting up 65 to outpace MIT’s 71 and Williams’ 100, but would succeed in placing their five finishers in the top 20. It was senior Sara Rosenzweig who crossed the line sixth place with a time of 22:19.4 with senior teammate Marissa Cossaro six seconds behind.

Heading into the match, Moore explained that the strategy was a simple, yet effective one. “The NESCAC schools know this course very well,” Moore said. “The plan was to pack it up with the teams who knew the course the best and hang with them until our aerobic fitness endured over the others.”

Both squads also kept together for much of the race in order to support each other. “Pack running is extremely important on multiple fronts; the tighter the pack, the more difficult it is for other teams to break apart the runners,” Moore said. “The pack also provides motivation, as teammates are in close proximity to each other and they are great about encouraging one another as they compete.”

By claiming first in both races, one or both teams may find themselves claiming the title of first in the nation by the end of the week.

“Overall, the plan played out in our favor,” Moore said. “It was a great win for both programs and gives the team momentum and confidence moving forward.”

Both squads run next on their home turf at Letchworth State Park for the Mike Woods Invitational on Saturday Oct. 1.

Cross country displays young talent

The cross country teams took a breather at the Rochester Invitational hosted by the University of Rochester on Saturday Sept. 17. Competing on a partial squad for both teams, the men ran to a 13/29 finish while the women placed 18/29. Head coach Dan Moore said that this invitational “gave an opportunity for younger members of the team to be the front runners” as well as “giving them the valuable experience in scoring points.” Moore also said that the team is looking to build upon their fitness.

“My philosophy is to race less and train more to give them the edge when it comes down to the end of the season,” Moore said.

The Knights had just come off of a blowout at the Oswego Invitational on Sept. 10—where Geneseo took first in both men’s and women’s—when they went into the Rochester Invitational.

“We didn’t use our full strength in Oswego; we saw it more as a workout. We wanted to showcase our fitness, but not reveal everything we have,” Moore said. “Knowing that and how high they placed, it puts an exclamation point on how fit we truly are and shows that our number two ranking in both programs is truly legitimate.”

The Knights will see one of the highest hills they will have to jog on this season on Saturday Sept. 24. There, the Knights will compete at the Purple Valley Classic, hosted by Williams College in Massachusetts.

“Williams is the number one [team] in the country on the women’s side and number three on the men’s,” Moore said. “It’s really a sneak preview of what nationals is going to look like and who’s going to push us this early in the season. We purposely scheduled this meet to test how we fare right now in a highly competitive setting.”

The Knights are no strangers at being near the top of the standings, regularly clashing during the post-season. Being able to test their mettle against one of the strongest contenders in the nation is certainly something Geneseo looks forward to, as it can be used both as a marker to determine where they currently stand as well as a way to gain more experience against teams they’ll see later in the season on the national stage.

“This year, the Williams meet is stacked; it’ll be one of our greatest challenges of the year, but certainly a way to showcase what we have,” Moore said. “Cross country athletes come to Geneseo for that reason. In reality, there are not a lot of programs that can proudly say, ‘If you come here, you have an opportunity to win a national championship’ like we can.”

Nevertheless, the meet on Saturday Sept. 24 will prove to be an exciting match for both squads, as the energy and implications are high. Geneseo will look to take double first again, which could propel both squads into the national first seed conversation, given the close gaps at the top.

Cross country continues leading the pack

The Knights saw another successful run for the men’s and women’s cross country teams on Saturday Sept. 10 at the Oswego Invitational. The invitational marked the second meet of the season, with the first fielding some of the top runners from last year’s teams. The men’s team put on a dominating performance, snagging 15 of the top 20 spots. Leading the charge for the Knights was junior Isaac Garcia-Cassani, who ran an eight-kilometer track in 26:50. Close on his heels was senior Alfredo Mazzuca taking second, crossing the line three seconds behind his teammate.

Rounding out the top five Geneseo scorers were freshman Sean McAneny and seniors Alex Kramer and Matt Jorgensen, who all placed fourth, fifth and sixth overall, respectively. Geneseo grabbed an 18-point score-line—as points are given on positions of placement to the first five runners of that team—putting the Knights well above St. John Fisher who is in second place with 60 points.

At this point in the season, the men’s squad shows a tremendous amount of depth in its lineup, having just as many underclassmen as upperclassmen place in the top 10 overall with four apiece. Even more impressive is that the top eight overall finishers displayed mile paces of 5:31 or lower. Given the amount of time until the postseason arrives in late October, there is the potential for a large improvement from both groups alike.

The women’s squad displayed an even stronger performance, taking nine of the top 10 overall spots with a clean sweep from first to seventh. Sophomore Elise Ramirez led the pack with a time of 19:46 on the five-kilometer track, and senior teammate Sara Rosenzweig followed, finishing seven seconds behind. Seniors Ashley Peppriell, Marissa Cossaro and Marissa Bellusci rounded out the top five, giving Geneseo a perfect 15-point score-line for the invitational. The women outscored second place St. John Fisher with 77.

This early dominance at the start of the season is an indicator that the women’s squad will once again look to compete on the national level, as they hope to repeat their second-place overall finish or improve upon it. With over nine runners already putting up 6:35 mile paces or better this early in the season, the squad will look to put up more perfect score-lines as the season continues.

“I am really pleased with the team’s fitness at this point in the season,” head coach Dan Moore said. “We came in with a strategy for the whole team to run as a pack for a majority of the race. Watching them accelerate and close hard was fun and impressive.”

Both teams look to continue their early season success on Saturday Sept. 17 at the Rochester Invitational.

Cross country refuses to slow down

Coming off a second and third place national finish respectively, the Geneseo women’s and men’s cross country teams both bound into the fall 2016 season ranked as number two in the nation. Led by head coach Dan Moore ’06, the teams look to go even farther this year. “They worked incredibly hard during the indoor and outdoor season to continue to elevate their fitness,” Moore said. “Another strong summer of training in the books, and both teams are showing they are deserving of the number two ranked teams in the country.”

Geneseo ranks high in the preseason polls, mainly due to the amount of returning runners to each of the two squads. This year will include the return of many of the top runners for the men’s team, including junior Isaac Garcia-Cassani, who lead the men’s team to their highest finish in program history with an eighth-place run at the NCAA Championships, landing him an All-American honors. Garcia-Cassani’s success in cross country also led to many achievements during the subsequent track season.

“[Garcia-Cassani] earned two All-American honors with his third place finish in the mile and third place finish in the DMR,” Moore said. “He also finished third place at the outdoor NCAA Championships in the 1500m.”

If anything, this only indicates that Garcia-Cassani has no intention of letting up. This year also brings an impressive group of freshman, including Sean McAneny.

“[McAneny] has shown his fitness early on, and the anticipation for what he will do this season is nail biting,” Moore said.

The women’s team also shows a large return, fielding six of the top seven runners from last year. Leading the charge is senior Sara Rosenzweig, who finished 37th in the nation last season. She also earned All-American honors last spring in the steeplechase event.

Also in the mix is senior Kelly Flanagan and sophomore Anna Galbraith, who have gotten off to a quick start this season, snagging second and fourth place respectively on Friday Sept. 2 at the Cardinal Early Season Invitational, hosted by St. John Fisher College.

The invitational saw the two teams not only take their first laps for this season, but also resulted in a first place run for the men’s and second place for the women’s overall with some strong individual performances.

The men’s squad put up an impressive fight, finishing score-line with freshman Lucas Sutton leading the charge in fifth place. He would be followed immediately by several of his teammates, including junior Nick Termine in sixth place and freshmen Stephen Loce and Kevin Seitz in seventh and eighth place, respectively. Junior Kyle Chesterman rounded out the top five scorers with his 11th place finish, allowing the men to narrowly slip by Rochester Institute of Technology for their first win of the season.

Flanagan and Galbrath also met the women’s squad with promising performances, both finishing with top five placements. Following them were junior Marisa Gingello in ninth, sophomore Audrey Button in 16th and junior Julianna Lauricella in 21st, assisting the team to their overall second place finish.

Both teams will surely seek to improve their times with the addition of last year’s experienced runners and the improvement of an unexpected number of underclassmen—an opportunity available through meets such as Friday Sept. 2’s invitational. Either way, both programs have shown that they are off to a great start and have even more potential, according to Moore.

“A national championship on both sides is not out of the question at all. It will take them being a little sharper, a little more on point than they were last year to achieve their goals,” Moore said. “They can do it. They believe. I believe.”

Moore continues standard of excellence for XC program

There are few times that a coach can come into a season with such lofty goals as cross country head coach Dan Moore had and then deliver them all. At the beginning of the season, Moore expressed his optimism that both his men’s and women’s teams had the potential to end up on the podium at the season’s conclusion. Both teams were not only able to deliver that result, but were able to exceed Moore’s expectations.

“I knew at the beginning of the season that our women had a very good chance to end the season on the podium,” Moore said. “The men’s team was very good and they kept getting better all year long. So to have both our teams end up on the podium was really something else.”

Moore explained that when the men and the women steamrolled their competition throughout the season, the athletes were all incredibly confident in their individual abilities and their work as a team to take them all the way to the top.

“Our athletes believed all year long that they were one of the best groups in the nation and they were able to prove that to themselves and to the rest of the country,” Moore said.

Moore added that he often told both teams that they were among the best in the nation; rhetoric that was based heavily in truth.

“[Former head coach Mike Woods ‘69] left me such a strong base and upperclassmen,” he said. “This was one of our strongest teams in a long time.”

This year’s Knights are one of only nine teams in the history of Division III cross country that has ever managed to get both their men’s and women’s teams on the podium in the same season, an accomplishment that Moore thinks very highly of.

“Most teams in the country are strong on only one side, either the men or the women. But our program is just that good; we can get both our squads up there,” Moore said. “It really amazes me.”

Considering that it is only his first season, being named the SUNYAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year is a major accolade for Moore. Despite Woods’ impressive legacy, Moore did something that his predecessor wasn’t able to: take home hardware for both teams in the same year. But Moore was quick to admit that without the leadership over the past 20 years from Woods, this program would be nothing like it is now.

“Woodsie was and is the reason for our success. Without him, we wouldn’t have been able to do what we just did,” Moore said. “We owe everything to him.”

Given the amazing success of his first season, there seems to be little room for Moore and his teams to improve going forward—if only for both teams to take home first place. And that is a strong possibility for a group of such gifted athletes. The sky is the limit for these teams moving forward and Moore wouldn’t have it any other way.

Cross country takes podium at NCAA Tournament

The Geneseo men’s and women’s cross country teams can look back and smile, knowing that they did what few teams in the history of Division III have ever done. By having both the men and the women end up on the podium at the end of Nationals, they become just the ninth team in the history of Division III to ever do so.

“To be able to do exactly what we had set out from the beginning of the year to do is amazing,” head coach Dan Moore said. “We were able to show how strong of a program Geneseo is.”

The men’s team came in third place; the women were able to secure second place overall—both amazing feats. Both teams had All-American athletes; sophomore Isaac Garcia-Cassani for the men and senior Jacquie Huben for the women earned the honors. Both of these runners were the top finishers for their respective teams.

Moore was quick to share the credit for the success of this season. “[Former head coach Mike Woods ‘69] did such a phenomenal job over the past 23 seasons setting us up for success. Everything can be traced back to him,” he said. “Everyone—the trainers, the assistants, everyone—did such a good job of making sure that we were always at the top of our game. That was instrumental to our goals this year.”

Furthermore, the fact that in his first season as head coach Moore was able to lead both teams on the national podium is quite an outstanding accomplishment.

“It’s amazing, really,” Moore said. “To be able to see what we’ve accomplished and also to think that we can get even better, it’s crazy.”

Moore stressed that the mental toughness of his athletes is second to none. “The whole season, we talked about ‘Find your why.’ It really drove out runners to do this for them, in addition to doing it for the team,” he said. “It added a layer to the season and that really helped us.”

Having the physical and mental stamina to go out for the majority of the semester and have practices, meets, traveling and more—in addition to having all of the regular stress of college academics—is staggering. To then have the runners of the men’s and women’s cross country teams go out and do as well as they did on the national stage is an amazing feat.

The Knights put themselves in the history books as one of the few programs to be good enough to put both squads on the podium at the end of the season. In the coming years, the Knights are going to have to prove that this wasn’t a fluke. Moore’s dedication that he carries personally and instills in his athletes, however, implies that this shouldn’t be an issue.

“This is a pretty high bar to set for my first season but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Moore said. “To try and beat this result every year is something I’m looking forward to.”

XC wins sixth SUNYAC Title in seven seasons

The Geneseo men’s and women’s cross country teams have had a relatively easy road to the NCAA Atlantic Regionals. Both teams were able to win the SUNYAC Championships, with each team having multiple athletes selected to the first and second All-Conference teams. Even though winning SUNYAC Championship is quite the accomplishment, the teams are keeping their eyes on the prize—winning Regionals and hopefully ending up on the podium when Nationals is over.

Winning the SUNYAC title for the men and women is something the program always tries to accomplish,” head coach Dan Moore said. “It’s very satisfying coming away with the wins, but these are just stepping stones to get to the NCAA Championship and we want to come back with some hardware.”

While Moore has said that he is going into Regionals—which is Saturday Nov. 14, exactly a week before the NCAA Championship—focused just on Regionals, it’s a tough ask for his athletes.

“Of course they’re thinking about Nationals but I keep telling them that right now, our focus needs to be on Regionals,” Moore said. “They all know that and I trust them to keep sharp.”

Being focused is going to be relatively easy for the Knights, considering that they don’t have to travel at all for the Atlantic Regionals. The Knights will be hosting the event at Letchworth State Park. Being able to sleep in their own beds, eat at places they’re familiar with and simply not having to travel are all going to help the Knights. “Obviously it’s nice to have an event like this at home,” Moore said. “Everyone gets to stay in familiar settings and can keep their routines.”

But having the event at their home course provides one more benefit for the teams: a drive to make sure that they defend their turf. “We want to defend our house,” Moore said. “No one should be able to come in here and beat us.”

Every player this season has contributed to the Knights’ success and that’s by design. “There’s this saying that I’ve been telling them all year: ‘The strength of the wolf comes from the pack and the strength of the pack comes from the wolf,’” Moore said. “We’re strong as individuals and as a team. Everyone does their parts and is happy to do it.”

No one’s job is as important on the team as the upperclassmen leadership, however. They lead the team in exercises and stretches. If the upperclassmen show a dedication to those simple tasks, there is a trickle down effect that takes place.

“If the older guys stay just a few minutes longer, that really affects everyone,” Moore said. “It really drives everyone to be the best they are because they want to be like our leaders.”

The Knights will face some stiff competition at Regionals on Saturday Nov. 14, but if they keep sticking to the plan they’ve had all season, then they should be able to show the nation what’s coming at Nationals.

NCAAs loom for cross country teams

The Geneseo cross country teams have prepared for this all season: the SUNYAC Championships on Saturday Oct. 31. Both the men’s and the women’s cross country teams are currently ranked sixth in the nation, setting them up nicely once regionals and the NCAA Tournament roll around.

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Cross country teams earn much needed break before SUNYACs

Coming off of strong finishes on Saturday Oct. 17 at the Rowan University Inter-Regional Invitational, the Geneseo men’s and women’s cross country teams have a weekend off before heading to SUNY Plattsburgh for the SUNYAC Championships.

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Cross country dominates at Woods Invitational

With dominating performances at the Mike Woods Invitational on Saturday Oct. 3, the Geneseo men’s and women’s cross country teams put themselves in excellent positions going into the home stretch of their seasons. Both teams had first place finishes at the 35th annual invite held at Letchworth State Park.

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Cross country looks beyond SUNYACs, NCAAs in sight

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.

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Cross country places in the top 20 at Yellowjacket Invitational

The Geneseo men’s and women’s cross country teams finished strong at the Yellowjacket Invitational hosted by the University of Rochester on Saturday Sept. 19. The men were led by freshman Lorenzo Mazzuca—who came in 30th place—and the women were led by freshman Anna Galbraith. The men finished in eighth place out of 23 teams while the women finished in 12th place out of 24 teams.

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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.

Geneseo alum to succeed Woods as cross country coach

With the retirement of cross country and track and field coaching legend Mike Woods ‘69, former assistant track and field coach Dan Moore ‘06 will take over as the head coach of the Geneseo cross country team. “I’m very pleased,” Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreation Mike Mooney said. “It’s a great individual coming to be one of our head coaches.”

During his time at Geneseo, Moore was on both the cross country and track and field teams. After graduating with a degree in psychology, he went on to Alfred University to receive his master’s and certificate of advanced study in school psychology. It was there—while in graduate school—that he started his coaching career as a volunteer cross country coach.

“I didn’t have a lot of coaching background other than what I was given as an athlete,” Moore said. “I started reading books about running, training design and human physiology.”

After leaving Alfred, Moore gained plenty more experience coaching. He worked from 2008–2012 coaching at Wayland-Cohocton High School while working as a school psychologist. He eventually left to become an assistant cross country and track and field coach at Geneseo. Moore left Geneseo two years later to become associate head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach at St. John Fisher College from 2013 to 2014.

With regards to his selection as Geneseo’s new head coach for cross country, Moore expressed both relief and excitement. “I had the decision of a lifetime to make,” he said. “I had a secure job at Fisher—do I leave that to become an assistant coach and hopefully take over? … I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here, so I’m glad it all worked out.”

Moore emphasized his commitment to helping student athletes improve, passing on what he learned from his experience as a former Geneseo athlete and coach. “It’s instilling my knowledge and a passion for the sport that was instilled in me and giving it back to the athletes,” he said. “I want the athletes to be students of the sport.”

Woods left an impressive legacy in his time coaching at Geneseo. Moore expressed gratitude toward his predecessor and former mentor for giving him the skills to continue that tradition.

“I’ve got huge shoes to fill,” Moore said. “The way Woodsy coaches, that’s the way I’ve been taught to coach … it’s been that foundation, the cornerstone of my coaching. What he really instilled in all of us is just ‘believe.’ Believe in the training, believe in the coaching, believe in each other and most importantly, believe in yourself. That’s definitely got to stay.”

While Moore doesn’t want to fundamentally alter the way cross country is coached at Geneseo, he does want to bring a more scientific point of view to the table. “When athletes ask ‘Why?’ they’re going to have a more scientific understanding of what’s going on in the body; why we’re doing it this way, what energy system we are using today,” he said. “In my way of describing things, it’s going to be new to them.”

In addition to being involved with Geneseo Athletics, Moore is an avid triathlete—competing at national and international levels. He is involved in Geneseo Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has participated in SafeZone Training, leading an educational session for the entire Athletics staff.

Moore is optimistic about his new position and what the future holds for the program. “I’m just thrilled to be here,” he said.

Saying goodbye to coach Mike Woods

After a 23-year coaching career at Geneseo, cross country head coach and track and field assistant coach Mike Woods will retire at the end of the spring 2015 track season. During Woods’ nearly quarter century-long tenure, the Knights have earned dozens of SUNYAC Championships and national honors, including the school’s first and only team National Championship with the 2005 women’s cross country team. Woods has also received 28 SUNYAC Coach of the Year distinctions.

Woods’ role in cross country at Geneseo began long before he assumed the head coaching position in 1992. He joined the school’s first intercollegiate cross country program when he was a freshman in 1964. After an athletic career that spanned both high school and college, Woods noted, “It was just a natural offshoot for me to want to coach.”

Following graduation, he taught English at York Central School for 33 years where he established and coached its first cross country team. Woods retired from coaching high school cross country after 21 years in order to make more time for his children, but was almost immediately encouraged to apply for the open head coach position at his alma mater. At first, Woods said no to the job, but his children encouraged him to pursue his passion for coaching at the collegiate level.

In his first year, Woods faced the task of changing the team’s culture, encouraging the athletes to strive for excellence. He soon began taking “the best athletes to the best meets … all the meets where we’d get our butts kicked.” Woods has consistently motivated the Knights to face Division I teams at highly competitive meets like the Penn Relays, where they compete every year.

“There’s a certain level of excellence at Geneseo that’s expected in the classroom and I expect that same level from the athletes,” Woods said. “There’s a definite connection between the classroom and competing here.”

Both of his closest colleagues—track and field head coach Chris Popovici ’06 and assistant cross country and track and field coach Dan Moore ’06—said that the dedication to athletics Woods inspired in them while they ran for the Knights motivated them to work as coaches post-graduation. This dedication is defined by Woods’ emphasis on the word “believe” as a key concept of the team.

“He instilled that in us as athletes and then as coaches to pass the message along to the current athletes—to get them to believe in themselves, to believe in the training, believe in the program,” Moore said.

Popovici added that Woods’ legacy will remain fundamental for the team after his retirement.

“It’s a program that he’s built and it’s still building,” he said. “It’s still strong. It’s not going to crumble; he’s built such a culture and an infrastructure here amongst the current athletes. Campaigning so hard to have alumni back in the program coaching has maintained that legacy and that culture that’s been created.”

Following his retirement, Woods will continue to be involved with the cross country and track teams as a volunteer, but he also looks forward to spending more time with his grandchildren, reading and returning to teaching.

Current team members noted that they will miss his encouragement and insight.

“He’s more than just your coach, he’s your biggest fan,” senior Joanna Castrogivanni said.

Senior Sean Fischer added, “He’s been probably the biggest motivator for me to do anything while at college. He can just push on the things that you care about the most until you’re willing to sacrifice for your whole team.”

Woods said that above all, he has striven to instill a passion in the hundreds of athletes he’s coached both for running and for teamwork.

“That’s my philosophy: try to make it fun for them and try to make it an enjoyable experience,” he said. “I’m not a yeller and a screamer, I’m just a supporter and that seems to work pretty well.”