Both the Binghamton women’s and men’s cross country teams struggled at the America East (AE) Championship this past weekend, finishing sixth and seventh overall, respectively. Redshirt freshman Dan Schaffer finished highest for the Bearcat men, in 16th place. He left Vermont with some hardware to go along with his top-20 finish, as he was named the Most Outstanding Men’s Rookie during the meet.
The talented freshman was just two spots away from a second team all-conference finish in his first AE Championship meet.
“I was really proud of Dan [Schaffer] and how he ran today,” said BU head coach Annette Acuff. “It was really cool to see him win that award — he really was the most impressive rookie at the meet.”
Senior Allison Davis led the way on the women’s side, finishing 20th overall. Stiff in-conference competition performed extremely well, as anticipated by Acuff.
“The women’s conference has always been really competitive, a little more competitive in the region than the men’s side,” she said on Thursday before the meet. “I think [Davis is] in a good place right now both mentally and physically going into [the AE Championship].”
Stony Brook rallied to win the men’s title, despite UMass Lowell junior Paul Hogan taking first place overall. The most surprising result was BU redshirt senior Eric Holt, who struggled to find his stride and ended up in the 38th place.
“[Holt] certainly struggled out there today,” Acuff said. “I wasn’t expecting this at all, and I know he’s really disappointed in his performance.”
The next top finisher for the BU women was a Binghamton-area native, sophomore Emily Mackay. The former high school standout and Oregon State transfer’s best placement of the season was 20th overall at the Albany Invitational, with a time of 18:40. She beat that time by two seconds in Vermont, but it only granted a 30th place finish in the championship.
“[Mackay] had the race of the day,” Acuff said. “It was great to see her perform so well in only her second race of the season.”
Redshirt freshman Timothy Courts surprised everyone, finishing in the 22nd spot and 17 seconds ahead of Holt. Courts posted a time that earned him the second overall spot among rookies at the meet.
“[Courts] had a fantastic race,” Acuff said. “I was really happy to see him finish so high in his first championship race.”
The strong performances the Bearcat men’s team freshman runners recorded make for a promising future. Showing flashes of impressive stamina early is certainly important for a team that will be losing its top runner after this year, when Holt graduates.
“I think [Schaffer] has adjusted to the 8K distance extremely well,” Acuff said. “Probably the best that I’ve seen out of any athlete that we have had on cross country, he has really just adjusted so well and adapted to the 8K very quickly.”
The women’s squad finished in close proximity of each other to take home a sixth-place finish. Following Mackay was junior Erika Yamazaki in 34th, freshman Kaylee Stone in 38th and sophomore Jessica Cueva-Scarpelli in 40th. This strong overall performance can be partly credited to Davis’ leadership and Acuff’s guidance.
“The women had a really great race,” Acuff said. “[Davis] had her best championship finish today, which was great to see since it’s her last cross country conference championship.”
The Bearcats are set to compete next in Buffalo for the NCAA Northeast Regionals. Automatic qualification gives Binghamton’s runners another opportunity to make it to the NCAA Championships. The regional meet is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 10 in Buffalo, New York.