When the dust settled at the Iona Meet of Champions Friday, the Binghamton men’s and women’s cross country teams managed to bring home the individual gold and silver medals, respectively, for their second meet of the year. Overall, the women placed fourth while the men placed fifth out of six teams.
“We had a couple of kids that, you know, were a little tired just coming off the last three weeks of training,” said Binghamton head coach Annette Acuff. “So I didn’t expect the team to feel fresh necessarily for the meet. That wasn’t really part of the plan … But overall, I think it was a pretty solid start.”
Pacing not only the Bearcat men, but the entire men’s five-mile field on Friday morning was senior Josh Stone. Stone clocked in a time of 25:03.20, crossing the line with a five-second lead over second place. In comparison to his performance at the meet the year prior, the Bearcat improved his time by 27 seconds to earn the victory.
“He executed really well,” Acuff said. “In terms of his game plan, he was patient early on and put himself in a great position going into the last mile of the course and … was able to finish really strong and pull out the win.”
Fifth year Ryan Guerci also cracked the top 10, with a time of 25:42.0 that earned him an eighth-place finish. In 18th overall, with a time of 26:06.60, was graduate student Andrew Harrell. Rounding out the top five Bearcats were graduate student Marty Dolan, finishing in 39th with a 26:35.70 and freshman Liam Cody, who crossed the line in 26:49.10 to finish 44th. Overall, the men’s squad finished in fifth place.
Acuff noted that both teams were down runners due to illness, which opened up the door for some freshmen to compete.
“I didn’t originally plan to bring them to that meet because I just opened them up at [the Colgate Harry Lang Invitational] a couple of weeks ago,” Acuff said. “But it did give them a chance to get on the Van Cortlandt Park course, see the course, run their first 8k, and get in an 8k experience before [the Lehigh Paul Short Run] which I think will help them a lot for Lehigh.”
Entering the meet as the reigning women’s 5k champion, graduate student Sophia Ryan netted her second consecutive Iona podium. Ryan ran a time of 18:05.40, earning second place overall and the fastest time for the Bearcat women at the meet.
“[Ryan has] been training really hard,” Acuff said. “We trained through this meet, so she was a little tired going in, but still was able to run a solid performance, solid time.”
Other Binghamton runners included graduate student Sheridan Talada, who narrowly missed the top 30. She finished with a time of 19:40.50 which was good enough for 31st overall. Meanwhile, sophomore Sydney Leitner slipped from a podium finish a year ago to a 34th place result, as she clocked in a 19:43.50 after taking a fall during the race. Also aiding in the Bearcat women’s fourth-place effort with 41st and 42nd-place finishes were junior Jennifer Mui, punching in a 19:49.50, and graduate student Kyra Guerci, with a time of 19:50.60, respectively.
“Overall, all things considered, it was a solid day,” Acuff said. “It’s rare that you can have a day where everything just goes perfectly for every single athlete and then for the entire team. That’s part of competing and part of the game. So that’s why as a coach, you’re just always trying to do your very best to try and keep kids healthy.”
Binghamton will set its sights on the Lehigh Paul Short Run on Saturday, Sept. 30. First race is scheduled to take place at 9:30 a.m. at the Murray Goodman Cross Country Course in Bethlehem, PA.