In their first meet of the season, the Binghamton cross country teams won both the men’s 8K and women’s 5K races at the UNH Pre-Conference XC Invitational against six other competing teams.
“It was our first meet so we’re just getting started,” said Binghamton head coach Annette Acuff. “They opened up really well and raced really well. That’s all we were really concerned about.”
In addition to sweeping the competition over the weekend, two Bearcats finished their races in the gold medal position.
Winning the men’s 8K was redshirt senior Dan Schaffer. The Bearcat, who broke four minutes in the mile at the twilight of the last track and field season, returned to action on Saturday to clock in at 24:36.10 and beat out 62 other finishing runners. Schaffer crossed the finish line nearly 18 seconds ahead of the athlete behind him.
While Schaffer topped the podium on the men’s side, two-time All-American redshirt senior Emily Mackay won the women’s 5K race with a time of 17:21.74. Mackay entered this cross country season with a 14th-place finish at the 2021 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships under her belt.
“[Mackay] is just getting started,” Acuff said. “She competed this weekend just to get a look at the conference course … She’s just looking to improve this season. [Mackay] wants to get a lot better and she’s got a great opportunity to do that.”
Despite Schaffer and Mackay sweeping the individual titles, Acuff said Saturday’s race was to help both of them get back on the course after a break from competing.
“We just wanted [Schaffer and Mackay] to get the rust off from not competing in cross country for a while,” Acuff said. “They just [tempo-ran], but we were able to still win doing that.”
Not far behind Mackay in the 5K was senior Aziza Chigatayeva who took silver with a time of 17:26.77. During last season’s America East (AE) Cross Country Championships, Chigatayeva took fourth overall and earned first-team all-conference honors.
Sophomore Sheridan Talada rounded out Binghamton’s top-10 women’s finishers, taking fifth place with a time of 18:18.40. With multiple Binghamton athletes finishing in the upper echelon of the leaderboard, the Bearcats were able to run away with the first-place spot. Binghamton University scored 34 points in comparison to second-place New Hampshire’s 55.
The men’s side, however, posted five top-10 finishes at the invitational. Junior Matt Cavaliere came closest out of the BU lineup to Schaffer’s first-place title, finishing fourth overall with a time of 25:14.17. Crossing the finish line shortly after were sophomore Josh Stone and redshirt senior David Leff, clocking in at 25:25.23 and 25:27.84, respectively. In 10th place, senior Matt Jacob ran a time of 25:52.73 to help put Binghamton further out of reach for second-place Vermont. The Catamounts posted an overall score of 56 but were unable to compete with BU’s low total of 28.
This season, the Bearcats only have three meets scheduled before AE competition begins. Acuff is looking to keep the team fresh before conference racing begins.
“We try not to over-race,” Acuff said. “You don’t need to race a lot — you need to get a few races in to prepare yourself to race in bigger championship meets. You want to be fresh and you want to be able to run well when it counts.”
BU is slated to compete at the Lehigh Paul Short Run on Friday, Oct. 1. The meet is set to take place in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with an official start time pending announcement.