On Friday, the Binghamton men’s and women’s cross country teams wrapped up their season by competing at the NCAA Northeast Regional Meet. Out of 37 competing teams, the men netted a 19th-place finish while the women placed 21st. Without a runner qualifying for nationals, the cross-country season has concluded.
“You get to the end of the season and some kids are a little bit more tired coming off of the conference meet,” said Binghamton head coach Annette Acuff. “It’s always kind of a mixed bag of results at regionals every year, but overall, my goal was to be at least around that top 20 mark.”
To close out his five-year career as a Bearcat, fifth-year Ryan Guerci led the timesheet for the Bearcat men for the first time this season. Guerci punched in a time of 30:51.1 in the men’s 10k to earn a 71st-place result out of 257 runners. Meanwhile, after running in the top 40 for most of the race, senior Josh Stone faded back to 77th at the line as he battled through illness to clock in a 30:58.9.
“[Stone] had an off day, but he had a little bit of illness going on,” Acuff said. “So, unfortunately, it was just bad timing for him. [Guerci] got out and was pretty aggressive, but he kind of fell off just a little bit in the last mile, and I think that’s just [because] he’s used to racing more 8ks than that 10k distance. But I thought in the guys’ race, we competed a lot better, and we executed even a little bit better at regionals than at the conference meet.”
Other competitors in the field included graduate student Marty Dolan who placed 104th with a time of 31:25.8. Freshman Tim Smith, one of two freshman runners selected for the trip to the Bronx, crossed the line with a time of 32.01.1 in his Northeast Regional Meet debut to finish in 146th. Rounding out the men’s top five for BU was graduate student Andrew Harrell, whose time of 32:34.5 was good enough for a 172nd-place finish.
In her final cross county race for BU, graduate student Sophia Ryan led the way for the Bearcat women with the best individual result for BU at the meet — 41st out of 264 women’s 6k competitors with a time of 20:50.0. Also inside the top 100 for the Bearcat women was sophomore Sydney Leitner, clocking in a time of 21:31.8 to reach the finish line in 94th.
“Believe it or not, it’s kind of hard to believe, but both [Leitner] and [Ryan] ran faster this year than last year, even though with their places you wouldn’t really think it,” Acuff said. “Last year the conditions weren’t as good, so I think that had a little bit to do with it, but for different reasons, they didn’t place as high this year as what they did last year. But they certainly contributed a lot to our success this year … without either one of them we certainly wouldn’t have won the conference championship.”
Also contributing to Binghamton’s 21st place finish on the women’s side was junior Jennifer Mui, with a time of 22:23.3, as she collected 153rd place. Graduate student Sheridan Talada brought home a time of 22:36.7 to secure a finish of 165th while crossing the line in 173rd by punching in a time of 22:48.9 was graduate student Kyra Guerci.
“The women were a little off of what we did at conference,” Acuff said. “At conference, we had a spectacular day and we had so many kids run well on the same day. That’s what it takes to win championships and those days are rare when you can just kind of get everyone really well on the same day, especially freshmen. The women had a solid day but it wasn’t as strong as what we put together at conference.”
The cross-country teams finish their season with five all-conference runners and for the first time in 10 years, an AE Championship. Women’s cross country secured their first conference title off the backs of all-conference performances from Ryan, Leitner and freshman Brynn Hogan, while Stone and Guerci repeated all-conference honors on the men’s side. With the indoor track and field season around the corner, Acuff reflected on a healthy cross-country campaign.
“With having three seasons, especially for freshmen, you try to find a way to balance them out and keep them healthy,” Acuff said. “We did a really good job of that. I think if we did anything right this year, we kept our kids healthy. I’m super proud of that.”