Opening its season after a long break from competition, the Binghamton men’s and women’s cross country teams swept the field at the Vermont Quad Meet on Sunday. In addition to both teams winning in Burlington, Vermont over the weekend, each saw an athlete take the gold over the other three schools that competed.
“We had an amazing day,” said Binghamton head coach Annette Acuff. “I couldn’t say enough positive things about the team. We have a lot of athletes that are very fit right now … It was just a matter of having the opportunity to get out on the course and compete.”
The women’s side, led by redshirt senior Emily Mackay, finished 14 places ahead of second-place Albany in the 5K. Mackay’s time of 16:38.70 landed her a spot at the top of the leaderboard, narrowly beating out the second place runner by about four seconds.
“For [Mackay], that’s a fantastic time and a [personal record],” Acuff said. “[She] has taken her fitness to a whole new level. She’s really worked incredibly hard.”
Junior Aziza Chigatayeva, who finished fourth overall in the America East (AE) Cross Country Championships over a year ago, earned bronze, clocking in at 16:52.10 despite having not competed since fall of 2019 due to injury. Freshman Sheridan Talada was the third-highest scorer for the Bearcats, finishing with a time of 17:53.80 for a spot in sixth. The women’s team scored 22 points to place first the meet.
“For most of our returners, this was their first opportunity to compete in over a year,” Acuff said. “We had a perfect day in terms of weather and the course that Vermont put together was very creative and they did an amazing job.”
Later that evening, the Bearcats showed no signs of stopping as the men dominated the competition with another first-place finish. The meet’s top four spots were all occupied by Binghamton athletes. Sophomore Ryan Guerci led the charge, finishing in first with a time of 23:26.10 in the 8K.
“[Guerci] is a very gutsy racer, and we had a lot of guys up front who tried to push the pace,” Acuff said.
Following close behind Guerci was sophomore Matt Cavaliere who clocked in at 23:33.60 to take second, and freshman Josh Stone ran 23:37.30 to take the bronze. Sophomore Marty Dolan clocked in at 23:47.20 to round out the top four. The Bearcats finished with 17 points overall, outperforming second-place Vermont by 27 points.
“This is one of the most talented teams in [Binghamton] Division I history that we’ve had for the men’s side, probably for the women’s team as well,” Acuff said.
After competing against Vermont, Albany and Hartford over the weekend, the Bearcats are set to race against those three and the rest of the conference at the 2020 AE Cross Country Championships on Friday, March 5. The event will take place in Stony Brook, New York.