After winning the America East (AE) Championship in 2014 and placing third last year, the Binghamton men’s cross country team has established itself as one of the top squads in the conference. This year, however, the Bearcats will have to take a step back.
“This year is a little bit more of a developmental year,” said BU head cross country coach Annette Acuff. “We’re probably not going to be quite as competitive as what we were last year, but you never know.”
Binghamton will have to adjust to the departure of a large senior class. A total of six runners have graduated, including two of BU’s two most valuable runners from last season, Collin Frost and Ethan Hausamann.
Frost was the Bearcats’ top finisher in every race he ran last season. His fourth-place finish at the AE Championships earned him a spot on the AE First Team. Hausamann was Binghamton’s second best runner in 2015. He took home ninth place in the AE championships as well as Second Team All-Conference honors.
Acuff knows it will be a tall task to replace Frost and Hausamann.
“It always hurts to lose some of your top athletes,” Acuff said. “Hopefully a lot of the younger guys, it’ll give them a chance to step up and they’ll get a little more recognition.”
The key returner to the squad would have been senior Eric Holt, but he will be redshirting this season in the hopes of making his final contribution in a year when the Bearcats are more competitive. After finishing third on the team in each race last season, Holt’s absence will definitely be felt. He finished 19th overall in the AE championships and finished 80 out of 246 runners in the NCAA Northeast Regional Meet.
Although Holt will not be running this season, he will still have an influence on the young team. Acuff believes Holt’s presence, as well as that of classmate Hausamann, will have a positive influence on his younger teammates.
“Ethan Hausamann, even though he’s done with cross country eligibility, he has indoor and outdoor track [eligibility] so he’s still around [too],” Acuff said. “Just having their presence around certainly makes a big difference.”
Holt will not be the only athlete that will redshirt this season. Acuff plans to redshirt all five incoming freshmen in order to allow them to acclimate to the different style of college distance running.
“[It helps them] because they move up from a 5K in high school to an 8K distance, so it’s a tough transition,” Acuff said. “It’s a distance that they’ve never really trained or competed at so there’s a little bit of a learning curve there.”
The first meet of a season is often seen as very important, especially to get off to a good start. But Acuff described this week’s Colgate meet and the Sept. 17 Binghamton meet as “very low-key, low profile meets.” In these meets, results are not the most important thing for the team.
“We just want to help them continue to train well and maybe get in a couple of developmental races where they can build off of that,” Acuff said. “Like every year, we are just hoping some kids can make some good steps forward in terms of their overall development.”
BU is set to kick off its season at the Harry Lang Invitational, hosted by Colgate University, on Saturday. The meet is scheduled to get underway at 11:30 a.m. in Hamilton, New York.