Photo courtesy of Jonathon Cohen

The 2009 Binghamton University cross country season is one that will be remembered for years to come. Highlighted by the men’s team winning its first America East Championship, the 2009 season was packed with memorable moments and awards. Junior Erik van Ingen became Binghamton’s first runner to win the conference’s individual title. Chris Gaube, graduate student and co-captain, finished right behind van Ingen at the event to finish in second place. On the women’s side, freshman Rachel Miura finished 10th overall. Annette Acuff and Joe Pienta were even named the America East Men’s Cross Country Staff of the Year.

The 2010 men’s season promises to be even more successful than last season. With its top six runners returning, the squad is heavily favored to win its second-straight America East Championship.

‘We are really motivated for this year,’ head coach Annette Acuff said. ‘It should be our best year ever.’

Erik van Ingen, fresh off being the program’s first runner to qualify for the NCAA Championships and its first to run the four-minute mile, as well as the first to run under four minutes, is back to lead the way in his senior season.

‘We have a lot of senior leadership this year, but everyone on the team plays a very significant role in our success,’ Acuff said. ‘Erik leads a lot by example and has given us a ‘national level’ mindset.’

Co-captain Chris Gaube will be back again this season. His presence on the team is important to their success.

‘Chris has really led this team with our rebuilding and does a great job of mentoring the guys,’ Acuff said.

Also returning this season are all-conference runners senior Casey Quaglia and sophomore Jeff Martinez, seniors Adam Quinn and Andrew Ugolino, and graduate student and co-captain Craig Coon.

Other returning veterans include junior Tyler Stacheki and graduate student Chris Raulli. Sophomores Vasili Papastrat, Brendan Connell and Jason Santos all could move up on the team this year.

After an injury-plagued 2009, the women’s team looks to be back on track. Sophomore Rachel Miura, who finished 10th overall at the America East meet, and sophomore Lindsay Raulli, who was consistently in the top five in 2009, led the team toward an optimistic 2010.

‘Rachel and Lindsay have really bought into our program quick,’ Acuff said. ‘They are very willing to challenge themselves and are highly motivated to run to their potential. They have certainly gained a lot of confidence since last year and I’m really excited to see how much they improve again this year.’

Senior Ashley Horton is also looking to have a big season as she tries to regain her 2007 MVP form, when she finished 16th at the America East Championships.

Seniors Kim Law, Sarah Veith, Alicia Finger, Paulina Nunez and Shannon Finnegan, who were all in the top seven last season, will provide some veteran leadership on the team for top freshmen Caitlin Jelinek and Kelly Abbate.

‘A lot of girls will need to step up and contribute this year,’ Acuff said. ‘Everyone is going to play a huge role in how we succeed this fall.’

The America East Championships is scheduled for Oct. 30 in Boston. Binghamton will look to improve on a successful 2009 outing.

Other events include the NCAA Regional Meet, which is scheduled for Nov. 13 in Madison, Conn., and the NCAA Championships, which is scheduled for Nov. 22 at Indiana State University.

In the meantime, the Bearcats will be running in the Brooks Paul Short Run at noon today, hosted by Lehigh University, regardless of weather.