The Binghamton men’s and women’s cross country teams left the course on Saturday exhausted but satisfied. At the Albany Invitational, the Bearcats finished fourth of nine teams competing on the women’s side and fifth of eight teams on the men’s side.
Just as she has all season, junior Allison Davis led the Bearcat women, finishing 11th of 91 runners with a time of 18:22.6. Not far behind Davis were sophomore Erika Yamazaki (18:31.3) and senior Alana MacDonald (18:36.5). Freshmen Jessica Cueva-Scarpelli (18:42.6) and Chelsea Ogindo (18:45.6) rounded out the team’s top five.
Binghamton’s five fastest finishers on the women’s side all finished within 25 seconds of each other, leading BU head coach Annette Acuff to call the performance the best of the season so far.
“The women’s team is a lot stronger than what they’ve been in the past,” Acuff said. “Everybody on the women’s team has just stepped it up a ton.”
With a time of 16:59, Monroe College sophomore Susan Ejore won the individual women’s title, besting her teammate, sophomore Nokuthula Dlamini, by over 35 seconds. The host team, Albany, won the team title with 62 points, three points ahead of runner-up Siena.
Davis has led the Bearcats in every race she has participated in. Acuff has been impressed with her improvement; Davis’ 5,000-meter time is more than a minute faster than when she was a freshman.
“Allison [Davis] has been a great front runner for us the entire season,” Acuff said. “To run a minute faster in a 5K than two years ago is outstanding improvement. So it’s been very exciting to see her development.”
Junior Matt Gill led the men’s side, placing 17th with a time of 25:57.4. He was followed closely by junior Billy Hector in 18th place (25:58.0) and first-year graduate student Nate Kozyra in 23rd (26:09.3).
“Matt Gill has been running consistently well for us,” Acuff said. “He had a great day for himself and Billy Hector has been steadily progressing throughout the season.”
Albany won the team title with 18 points, and its lead runner, junior Ryan Udvadia, won the individual title with a time of 24:58.1. Manhattan came in second with 55 points, followed by Siena with 59.
After a packed fall schedule and an intense training regimen, Acuff believed that the weaker performance by the men may have been a result of fatigue.
“We were just looking to continue to progress and see some kids continue to improve,” Acuff said. “We did a little more on the women’s side than the men’s side, but I think the men were just a little more tired going into this meet.”
The invitational was the Bearcats’ final competition race before the America East (AE) Championships at the end of October. BU will spend the next two weeks resting and preparing for the race.
“Overall, I think the kids learned a lot from this meet on Saturday and they’re highly motivated going into the conference meet in a couple weeks,” Acuff said. “They know that’s the meet we’re really shooting for next year.”
The AE Championships are scheduled for Oct. 29. The men’s race is set to begin at 10 a.m. while the women’s race is set to start at 11 a.m. from Jerusalem Mills Park in Kingsville, Maryland.