SU dominates Regional Cross-Country Championship, earns spot at NCAA Nationals
SU cross country teams punch tickets to NCAA Nationals
BOSTON — In the midst of the cold and rain, 36 schools lined up on muddy ground for the NCAA D1 Northeast Regional Cross Country Championship on Friday. Before the gunshot start, the atmosphere fell silent; anticipation and focus settled in across the faces of the athletes. Some of them would end their season at the finish line and others would perform well enough to advance to nationals.
Despite the saturated course conditions at Franklin Park in Boston, the Syracuse men’s and women’s teams battled their way to the top of the leader board.
Earning the second-place spot overall in the 6-kilometer race behind Harvard, the Syracuse women found their rhythm as a team, four athletes finished in the top 25. Amanda Vestri placed first overall with a time of 20:05, separating her from the second-place athlete by 23 seconds. Annie Boos placed 12th crossing the finish at 21:05, Abigail Spiers, 17th at 21:08 and Holly Bent, 25th at 21:17. Each earned All-Region honors for their respective performances.
“We were all very excited just to get out and race,” Vestri said. “We knew we were capable of doing it, but it was just about putting the pieces together during the race.”
Following the success of the women, the Syracuse men edged out Harvard and clinched the first-place spot in the 10-kilometer race. Aidan Tooker led the team coming in third place overall at 30:15. Behind him, Joe Dragon placed sixth at 30:22, JP Trojan, eighth at 30:24, Matthew Scrape, 13th at 30:47 and Alex Comerford, 21st at 30:59 rounding out the men’s All-Region award recipients.
“Being from Syracuse it is definitely our M.O. to be able to go out and work hard regardless of the conditions,” Tooker said.
Throughout the season, Syracuse has faced a variety of course conditions and the race on Friday proved to be more of an uphill climb, Vestri said.
“It’s tough but it’s something that our team handled very well just because of the training that we do. We are a very strength-based program,” Vestri said.
The finishes for both ‘Cuse teams have earned them automatic spots in the NCAA Championship race. After celebrating their victories at Boston, the teams now set their sights on the final race of the season to be held in Tallahassee, Florida on Saturday, Nov. 20.
“We can’t get any better from now until the race next week, so we pretty much just have to relax, calm the nerves, get our heads in the right spot, and get recovered from this race,” Tooker said. “And then, it’s just go time.”