The Binghamton men’s and women’s cross country teams capped off their seasons with some notable performances at the NCAA Northeast Regionals in Buffalo this past Friday. Redshirt freshman Dan Schaffer continued to perform at an elite level, finishing 35th in the region.
“[Schaffer] had an outstanding cross country season, he really did for a redshirt freshman, so I think the future looks good for him in both indoor and outdoor track,” said BU cross country head coach Annette Acuff.
The regional meet brought about some unforeseen challenges. Snow covered the ground in Buffalo on a windy day that saw a high temperature of 23 degrees. Despite the conditions, the Binghamton runners finished right in the middle of the pack with the men taking 21st out of 37 teams and the women finishing 26th out of 37.
“[Redshirt senior Eric Holt and Schaffer] both rebounded well from the conference meet and certainly ran much better at the regional,” Acuff said. “I think that top-35 is outstanding for Dan, and Eric was not too far behind him.”
Junior Erika Yamazaki finished with the fastest time for the BU women, taking 80th place out of 251 runners with a time of 23:16. Senior Allison Davis and sophomore Jessica Cueva-Scarpelli were not too far behind Yamazaki, finishing 93rd and 117th, respectively.
“The best performance of the day was Erika [Yamazaki],” Acuff said. “This, by far, was her best cross country race of her career. She really stepped up big for the team today, which is exciting to see from her since she is only a junior.”
After placing 38th at the America East (AE) Conference Championships, Holt turned in an impressive bounce-back effort, finishing 44th at the regional meet. Schaffer and Holt would finish seventh and eighth out of AE runners at the regional meet, respectively.
“Eric was in the same area as Dan earlier in the race, but he sort of fell back at the last mile or so,” Acuff said. “But you still have to consider that Eric was 38th in the conference and 44th in the region — that’s his highest finish in the region, so going off that I think he finished on a great note for his collegiate cross country career.”
Acuff is looking forward to the incoming indoor track season. The experienced head coach is hoping for a smooth transition from cross country to track, as the runners will be competing in shorter events indoors.
“[Holt and Schaffer] both have incredible opportunity and potential — Eric Holt ran four flat in the mile this summer so he has a great opportunity to go sub-four, which would be amazing,” Acuff said. “We have had two sub-four-miler men in our program, and I could really see Eric being the third.”
Binghamton’s other senior runner, Davis, is looking forward to two more running seasons in her final year at BU. Compared to running a 6,000-meter race in cross country, Davis runs a shorter 5,000-meter event during the indoor season. She has seen some success in the past in this race, placing eighth as a junior in the 5K at the AE Indoor Championships last year.
“As a team, I think we ran as well as we were probably going to run today,” Acuff added. “But I think the girls certainly handled the conditions well, I mean considering the course and the weather conditions it was a good finish for us in the fall.”
Binghamton’s runners get a couple weeks off from competition but are scheduled to return for the indoor track and field season right before the semester ends. The winter track season is set to kick off Dec. 3 from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York for the Greg Page Relays. Races are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.