In 2015, the Binghamton women’s cross country team fielded a veteran squad, including five seniors, but only managed to place seventh of eight teams at the America East (AE) Cross Country Championships. This season, the team will consist mainly of underclassmen as it tries to improve from its lackluster finish while also building for the future.
Junior Allison Davis, who was one of BU’s top runners at each meet last season, is expected to be a main contributor this year.
“Allison Davis is definitely our top returner this year,” said BU head coach Annette Acuff. “I think she’s got a great shot at improving quite a bit from where she was at last year in the conference. Allison improved by a good 20 seconds from her time last year, so I’m thinking top 15 for her [in the conference], and it could be a very realistic goal.”
Davis, along with three other upperclassmen — Michelle Crook, Alana MacDonald and Eileen O’Hara — will look to lead the others by example. This leadership is essential, as these four will play a large role in shaping the team’s identity for this year.
“We have a really good work ethic on the team, and I think the girls are doing all the right things,” Acuff said. “It’s just a process in terms of development, so hopefully every year they can just develop a little bit more.”
Keeping the team healthy is once again a focus. According to Acuff, practicing daily has a significant impact on building up the strength and stamina necessary to compete at a high level. The team’s offseason training emphasized recovery from the spring track season and getting ready for the upcoming cross country season.
“[The team] got a few workouts in, but a lot of it’s just building up their mileage and aerobic base capacity in order to be ready for the season,” she said. “If you stay healthy, you can train well more consistently and hopefully have a little bit of success early on in the season that will build confidence going into the conference [championships] week.”
The crop of incoming freshmen may serve to excite and reinvigorate the team as the season gets underway. A constructive offseason of training and recovery has the Bearcats on the right track as they look to improve after their lackluster finish at last year’s conference championships.
“As a team we can hopefully move up a place or two [in the conference standings],” Acuff said. “It just depends on the how the conference looks. We just try to take it one meet at a time to see how the kids are progressing and how healthy they are going into the conference meet.”
The Bearcats are set to kick off their season on Saturday at the Harry Lang Invitational. The first race is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. in Hamilton, New York.