The Binghamton men’s and women’s cross country teams kicked off their seasons at the America East Pre-conference Meet on Saturday afternoon. Several notable first-place finishes on both sides highlighted the meet, as BU took fourth place overall against conference rivals.
The men’s team featured a sweep of the top two places in the men’s 8,000-meter race. Redshirt senior Eric Holt took first place with a time of 24:45, adding to an already decorated career at Binghamton. Redshirt freshman Dan Schaffer was not far behind Holt, crossing the line second with a 24:47 finish.
“Individually, I think it really helped Dan [Schaffer] and Eric [Holt] get a feel for how the course runs,” said Binghamton head coach Annette Acuff. “But this was an important meet for the entire team, that’s mainly why we went — to preview the America East Championship course.”
Despite both squads finishing in last place, a few Bearcats recorded strong performances at the Vermont course. On the women’s side, Binghamton senior Allison Davis crossed the line first for BU in the 5,000-meter race with a time of 18:17, earning herself the 10th overall spot.
Sophomore Jessica Cueva-Scarpelli finished second for the Bearcats in the sixteenth spot overall with a time of 18:28, following Davis closely. Cueva-Scarpelli’s development as a strong No. 2 to Davis will be crucial for the women’s team this season.
“[Holt and Davis are] both great leaders in their own way,” Acuff said. “I think they both lead by example because they both work incredibly hard, so both of them just lead incredibly well by example.”
After redshirting his first season and learning from the teams’ captains, Schaffer made an instant impact in his first collegiate race. The Endicott native burst onto the scene with his notable time against in-conference runners on a course that will prove to be crucial for Binghamton’s success this season.
“For all of our runners it’s a good chance to see how the course runs because it certainly has some unique characteristics, like every course does,” Acuff said. “So now when we go back we have a better idea of what to expect.”
As the only senior scorer, Davis leads a young women’s team. Her leadership and experience will be key for a scoring five that features freshmen Kaylee Stone and Claire Ashton. The two girls finished 27th and 34th with respective times of 19:04 and 19:15 in their first race as Bearcats.
“Some of our runners are not quite where they, and we, want them to be,” Acuff said. “We have a few runners on the men’s side who haven’t raced in a while. It’s an adjustment period with the men’s team. There’s a sizable gap between our top two men but Dan [Schaffer] and Eric [Holt] are on a very high level within the conference.”
Both teams are preparing to host a dual meet with Colgate on Sept. 16 in Vestal, New York. The meet is scheduled to begin at noon.