After last weekend’s poor showing at the University Athletic Association Championships, the men’s cross country team could have found it very easy to throw in the towel for the last two meets of the season. Instead, the Yellowjackets were highly motivated to prove that the last place finish the previous week was simply an aberration, and put together a very solid performance at Saturday’s New York State Championships, finishing sixth out of the 15 competing teams.
“We ran pretty well. Seven of the nine guys had very solid races, and we didn’t have anyone run poorly. It was a reaffirmation that we’re a good team – after UAAs we were really feeling that something was missing. On the whole it was a significantly better effort,” Head Coach John Izzo said.
Junior Dan Duett was again the top finisher for the men, placing 16th overall and running the 8,000-meter race in 26:30.
“Duett ran a very solid race, but I still think he can perform better,” Izzo said. For the second week in a row, junior Terence Cordner had a very strong race, running 27:05 for the 8,000-meter to finish 26th overall. Finishing third for the men and 35th overall was freshman Ben Snyder, who completed the race in 27:18.
Snyder’s finish put him fifth among all competing freshmen. Snyder was closely followed by sophomore Chris Nolan, who ran 27:24 to finish in 39th place. Sophomore Ian Slattery crossed the line in 27:36, putting him 47th overall. Coming in right behind him, junior Peter Nabozny was 49th overall with a time of 27:39. Sophomore Andrew Dylag ran the race in 27:45, good for 51st place.
Although the disappointment of the previous week has passed, there were still some mixed feelings regarding Saturday’s race, as even a solid composite performance couldn’t hide the fact that the Yellowjackets have yet to reach their full potential.
“Overall it was a good rebound weekend. We ran aggressively and stayed in the race this time, but I still think we can perform better. I really felt we should have been fifth, with an outside shot at fourth. We would have been fifth with anyone in our group stepping up a little bit,” Izzo said.
The team faces another challenge this weekend when they head to SUNY Geneseo for the Atlantic Regional Championships. With the top three teams in the Regional meet advancing to NCAA Championships on Nov. 22, the men will have a difficult task in order to compete in another meet this season. In their first time competing at Geneseo this season, the men were fourth in the 16-team event, but at the time they felt they could have done better. Since the Oct. 4 race ended, they have been looking forward to the Regional Championships as a chance for redemption on the same course.
“Our goal all year long has been to finish in single digits. For that to happen, we will have to have, for the first time all year, everybody having a good race on the same day. Obviously at this point in the season, you advance or you go home. Hopefully we’ll be totally rested for a big race on Saturday. I’d like to see it end on a high note,” Izzo said.
Swidler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.