Release: August 27, 2008
Binghamton Men's and Women's Cross Country Preview
"This is the most talented team we've had since I've been here," ninth-year head coach Annette Acuff said. "This team is both highly motivated and committed to being successful. We just need to stay healthy."
Senior Adam Hill and junior Chris Gaube are both coming off medical redshirt cross country seasons. Since their last cross country performances in 2006, however, both have contributed immensely to the track & field distance program. Gaube was third in the 5,000 at the 2008 America East Indoor Meet while Hill was fifth in the same event. Hill was also seventh in the 3,000. During the ensuing outdoor season, Gaube was fourth in the 10,000 and fifth in the 5,000 at the America East Championships. Simply put, the difference between Hill and Gaube's 2006 cross country seasons and this year figures to be enormous.
"We look for both Chris and Adam to contribute significantly this season both on and off the course," Acuff said. "Chris has helped build the program tremendously. He has been a great role model in terms of his work ethic and competitive spirit. Adam has also contributed and developed a lot over the past three years. He has a lot of motivation this year and has come back in the best shape he has ever been in. He has also done a great job of leading this team and mentoring last year's freshmen."
A major acquisition for the men's team is sophomore Erik van Ingen, a transfer from Canisius. As a freshman, he placed 67th at the NCAA Northeast Regional Meet and finished 11th at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships. Last spring, he arrived at Binghamton and placed fourth in the America East Outdoor Meet in the 1,500.
"We are very excited and fortunate to have Erik join our program," Acuff said. "Erik brings a new level of expectations and competitiveness to the program and will certainly help our program advance to the next level."
Sophomore Andrew Ugolino was the Binghamton team MVP last season. He was Binghamton's top finisher at both the America East Championship (22nd) and NCAA Northeast Regional Meet. He too figures to be a part of the top men's group this year.
"Andrew should be right up front with the rest of the front pack this year and is both a smart and tough racer. He sits in the shadow of some of the other guys on the team sometimes, but he is certainly capable of being right up there with anyone."
Depth will be on the team's side this year because Acuff has several other runners capable of breaking into the top five.
Sophomores Casey Quaglia and Adam Quinn are both coming off solid track seasons. Quaglia was fifth in the mile at the America East Indoor Meet while Quinn was eighth in the 5,000 at the conference outdoor championships.
Fellow sophomore Gerald McDonald was the Bearcats' top runner in three meets last season and freshman Tyler Stachecki has shown promise during the preseason.
Despite all of the injuries last season, the men's squad climbed two spots at the America East Championships to finish in sixth place. With the team healthy this season, much bigger things are expected come the first of November.
"I expect us to be competing
for any of the top three spots in the conference this year, Acuff
said. "I think that is a realistic goal for our program."
WOMEN'S TEAM PREVIEW
Like the men's team, the Binghamton women's cross country squad is seeking to improve from the 2007 season in a big way. With some of the team's top runners having disappointing seasons a year ago and last year's freshmen class showing significant improvement, the team is poised to climb the ranks in the America East.
Seniors Katie Radzik and Jamie Schulte are coming off difficult seasons from a year ago. Radzik, a two-time all-conference and all-region selection, struggled with injuries throughout the season. Schulte, who was a mainstay among the squad's top five runners two years ago, got off to a slow start last season. This year, however, both are healthy and are coming off their most productive summers of training.
"Katie and Jamie are both coming back in great shape from the summer," Acuff said. "They are highly motivated seniors and I look forward to seeing them finish their careers on a great note."
One returnee who had a very good 2007 season is sophomore Ashley Horton. The team MVP a year ago, Horton was the Bearcats' first in every meet. She placed 16th at the America East Championships and recorded a pair of top-10 finishes. Horton ended her season with a fifth-place finish at the ECAC Championship.
"Ashley had a great freshman year and has been a very consistent runner for us. You can rely on her meet after meet to turn in her best effort."
Among the other sophomores Acuff thinks will improve substantially this season are Sarah Veith and Kim Law. Veith was the squad's third runner at the America East meet and cracked the team's top five four times. While Law was outside the top five last season, she appears to be one of the team's most improved runners heading into the year.
"Now that they have had a year to develop and are both healthier, both should contribute significantly this season," Acuff said. "I also think there are a lot of runners on the team this year who can make a big difference for us this season."
Freshman Ryann Cretney is the top newcomer on this year's squad. She arrived from Lansing (N.Y.) High School, where she excelled in the 2,000 Steeplechase during high school. Despite having yet to compete in cross country, Cretney has the ability to be among the top five by the conclusion of the season.
"I certainly think Ryann has the potential to break into the top five by the end of the year. This is her first year running cross country so there is going to be a learning curve. By the end of the season, we should see her improve significantly."
Three other returning runners who were among the top seven on the team last year are sophomores Renee Blair and Shannon Finnegan along with senior Jennifer Hastings.
In the America East Conference, Binghamton has traditionally gone up against some of the top teams in the northeast region. This year is no exception, but Acuff believes that Binghamton can break into the top three for the first time in program history."
"The women's side of the
America East is very tough. Stony Brook finished second in the
region and placed 31st in the country. Boston is always tough
and New Hampshire is always good too. Still, I believe we have
the talent and depth to possibly break into that top group this
year. We'll need a great team effort."
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