The Binghamton men’s and women’s cross country teams both have their eyes set on improvement after each team took seventh place in last year’s America East (AE) Conference Championships. An abundance of returning runners, bolstered by new freshmen runners on both squads, look to elevate the teams’ standings in the conference.

“Most of the kids have had a pretty good summer of training,” said BU head coach Annette Acuff. “The team looks pretty fit coming off their training. For the most part, we’re pretty healthy right now.”

Both of the teams are looking to get better simply by using the leadership of last year’s runners; for the men’s team, redshirt senior Eric Holt looks to pace the team. Coming off a redshirt year, he is fresh and poised to lead the team both vocally and by example.

“[Holt’s] definitely in the best shape that he’s been in going into cross country,” Acuff said. “I think he looks to have a very promising cross country season.”

On the women’s side, senior Allison Davis is back on the track after leading the Bearcats at last year’s AE Championships. Davis, who placed 27th overall in the 5,000-meter event and led the team for most of last year, will utilize her veteran experience to benefit a team where she is the only senior.

“[Davis] put in a really good summer of training and looks good going into our first meet this weekend,” Acuff said. “[Davis and Holt] are our top returners on both sides.”

Accompanying the returning runners, a few freshmen have already impressed on both teams. There are five redshirt freshmen on the men’s team that are poised to make an impact; among them, are Mitch Halpern and Dan Schaffer. For the women, Claire Ashton and Kaylee Stone have stood out as rookies capable of proving themselves immediately.

“We have a lot of freshmen that will compete on the women’s side,” Acuff said. “[Strong] will be a big contributor for us this fall. Claire Ashton looks really good as well, so I think those two freshmen could definitely help us out.”

On the men’s side, a four-time New York state champion and Nike national qualifier, freshman Kevin Moshier is no stranger to success. But to ensure a smooth transition to NCAA cross country, he has a few adjustments to make.

“We’re not sure if [Moshier] will compete this fall or if he will redshirt,” Acuff said. “A lot of it’s just based on the fact that the guys go from a 5K in high school to an 8K in college.”

Ultimately, each team has distinct benchmarks set.

“We’d love to be top three on the men’s side,” Acuff said. “For the women’s side, we’d just like to move up the ladder a bit from a competitive standpoint and just try and place a couple spots higher than we did last year.”

The Bearcats are scheduled to open their season this Saturday at the America East pre-conference meet in Burlington, Vermont.