The Binghamton men’s and women’s cross country teams delivered two of their best performances of the season this weekend in two meets. The men’s side took home the title at the Albany Invitational and sophomore Aziza Chigatayeva finished third out of 207 runners at the Princeton Invitational.
“I really feel like that [Albany] was the best meet so far for the majority of the team,” said Binghamton head coach Annette Acuff.
At Albany, six runners on the men’s team finished in the top 10 overall of the 8K race. Freshman Ryan Guerci finished fourth overall with a time of 25:20, followed by freshmen Marty Dolan (25:27) and Matt Cavaliere (25:37), redshirt junior Mitch Halpern (25:47) and sophomore Dan Gahagan (25:49). Redshirt sophomore Kevin Moshier finished 10th out of 82 runners, clocking in at 26:01. On the women’s side, Binghamton’s top three finishers in the 5K course were freshmen Kyra Guerci in 12th (19:01), Carolyn Burnell in 19th (19:21) and Kaitlyn DeYulio taking 21st (19:24), giving the Bearcats a fourth-place finish out of 10 competing schools. Eighty-six other runners competed in the women’s 5K at Albany.
“Ryan Guerci had his best race of the season for sure,” Acuff said. “He looked great, I think he really stepped up at Albany and ran really well. The freshmen guys had more confidence and success to gain from Albany. They’ll be a lot more confident going into the conference meet.”
On Saturday, select Binghamton runners competed at a more competitive course at the Princeton Invitational. Chigatayeva’s performance highlighted the event, with a time of 21:16 in her third-place finish, improving on her time last season by 59 seconds. Also on the women’s side, senior Jessica Cueva-Scarpelli finished 45th with a time of 22:29 on the 6K course.
“I really needed to take Aziza to Princeton because it was a higher-level competition and I felt that she needed another 6K race in,” Acuff said. “I’m trying to help prepare her, not only for the conference, but also for regionals.”
There were only three runners on the men’s team competing at Princeton. Redshirt senior Daryn Hutchings finished 47th out of 235 runners with a time of 25:04 in the 8K course. Redshirt sophomores Matt Goyden and David Leff finished 121st and 162nd with times of 25:46 and 26:15, respectively.
On Nov. 2, the Bearcats will compete at the America East Championships at Albany — the same course as Friday’s Albany Invitational. The women’s team placed fifth overall at that meet last year.
“I think top three is not realistic for [the women’s team] right now given that we lost [junior] Kaylee Stone to illness,” Acuff said. “She was one of our top four girls so that hurts a lot. Fourth would be a fantastic day. I think that’s the best we could probably finish on the women’s side.”
Stony Brook is the favorite to win the conference meet on the men’s side. At the competitive Princeton Invitational, the Seawolves finished first overall, with two runners finishing within the top five.
“Stony Brook looks to be the top team on the men’s side by far,” Acuff said. “Unless they have an off day, it’s going to be tough for any team to beat them.”
Last year, the men’s team placed third overall at the conference meet, tying its third-place finish in 2015. Redshirt junior Dan Schaffer took second place in 2018, but will not compete in 2019. However, the men’s team is deeper this year, especially given the new freshman talent. The women’s team has also improved over the last few years.
“Our women’s team has improved a lot in the last five years, this is one of the better teams we’ve had,” Acuff said. “Overall, I was really happy with how we looked and taking another step forward and gaining some confidence and good experience. It’s just a matter of trying to keep everyone healthy over the next two weeks.”
Coming off its successful weekend, the team is preparing for the America East Championships. The meet is set to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2 in Albany, New York.