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For Immediate Release: September 9, 2009
Contact: David O'Brian (dobrian@binghamton.edu)
Phone: 607-777-6478

2009 Binghamton Cross Country Season Previews

VESTAL, N.Y.--The Binghamton men's and women's cross country squads open up the 2009 season with a home invitational this Saturday at 11 a.m. It will mark the start of both programs' ninth year of competing at the NCAA Division I level as well as in the America East Conference.

This year's America East Conference Meet will be held Oct. 31 in Burlington, Vermont. The NCAA Northeast Regional Meet will be two weeks later in Boston.

BINGHAMTON MEN'S PREVIEW

Three years ago, the Binghamton men's cross country team recorded its second consecutive eighth place finish at the America East Championships. The Bearcats had some talented runners on that squad but had neither the depth nor the experience to make an impact at the conference meet. Simply put, the Bearcats were an afterthought when it came time to naming the top teams in the America East.

Those days are over.

Binghamton heads into the 2009 campaign with the depth, experience and talent to be listed among the top programs in the conference. Although the Bearcats placed a program-best third at last year's America East meet, several runners had subpar races. This year, the Bearcats' top seven runners return and are joined by the deepest freshman class in the program's Division I history.

"We are very excited about our level of talent and the development of our guys over the last couple of years," head coach Annette Acuff said. "This is a highly motivated team that is driven to be successful. This should be one of the most exciting years in the history of our program."

A year after missing the 2007 season with an injury, graduate student Chris Gaube had a breakout performance in 2008. He placed a program-best third at the America East Championships and 39th at the NCAA Regional Meet. During the indoor track season, he won his first-ever conference title by capturing the 5,000 at the America East Indoor Meet. With an all-conference performance in cross country and a championship in track under his belt, Gaube returns for the hope of an even better 2009 campaign.

"Chris has always brought a lot of maturity and leadership to the men's team," Acuff said. "I think he has really developed a lot of confidence after the success he had last year."

Binghamton's other returning all-conference runner is junior Erik van Ingen. After placing fourth at the America East meet, van Ingen went on to have a stellar track season. He ran a 4:01 mile during the indoor season and nearly qualified for the NCAA Championships. During the outdoor season, van Ingen won the America East title in the 1,500 and finished eighth at the NCAA East Regional Championships. Like Gaube, he too returns a stronger and more confident runner than he was a year ago.

"Erik has matured an exceptional amount in terms of how he trains," Acuff said. "He is so driven to succeed and this year he should improve a lot."

While Gaube and van Ingen have grabbed the headlines, junior Adam Quinn has quietly and steadily improved in his two years with the program. After placing 34th at the conference meet as a freshman, he moved up to 13th his sophomore season.

"Adam is very coachable and is pretty consistent for us in terms of his competitiveness," Acuff said. "He is very passionate about getting better."

Senior Adam Hill as well as juniors Casey Quaglia and Andrew Ugolino struggled at the conference meet last season but all bounced back during the remainder of the season. Hill placed a team-best fifth overall at the season-ending IC4A Championship, the second-best showing ever by a Binghamton runner at the meet. Quaglia was the Bearcats' second runner at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships while Ugolino, the team MVP in 2007, was the team's third runner. As a team, the Bearcats finished a program-best 15th (out of 33 teams) at the regional meet.

Senior Craig Coon, who was sixth in the 10,000 at last spring's America East outdoor track championships, appears to be the most improved runner on the team heading into the season. Two other veterans who were a part of the top seven last season are senior Jon Peffley and sophomore Tyler Stachecki.

Six freshmen join the squad this year, with Jeff Martinez and Jason Santos bringing the most impressive credentials. Martinez won the overall New York State outdoor track title in the 3,200 last spring, clocking a Section 4 record time of 8:57. During the 2008 cross country season, he was 12th at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional Championships. Santos, meanwhile, was 10th at the 2008 New York State Federation Cross Country Meet. Both Martinez and Santos were named second-team all-state. Fellow freshman Evan Bloomberg ran a 9:15 in the same 3,200 race that Martinez won.

BINGHAMTON WOMEN'S PREVIEW

After struggling through an injury-plagued 2008 campaign, the Binghamton women's cross country team heads into the upcoming season. The Bearcats are looking to climb back up the America East standings.

"This should be a good year on the women's side," Acuff said. "They have a chance to rebuild the program. The focus is to stay healthy and show a lot of development. Injuries were a problem last year but I like the group returning this year. Everyone seems healthy and are all on the same page in terms of our mentality."

After a difficult season in 2008, junior Ashley Horton is seeking to return to the form of her freshman season. She was the team MVP that season and placed a team-best 16th at the America East meet.

"Ashley has a lot of talent," Acuff said. "It's a matter of her staying healthy. If that happens, she will have a very competitive year. She is very tough and consistent runner."

Junior Alicia Finger was 26th at the conference cross country meet last year but during the outdoor track season, she was fourth in the 10,000.

"Alicia definitely has been a key contributor to the team," Acuff said. "She is the most improved female distance runner in our program the past year. I think with the success she had the past year she should continue to get better."

Juniors Sarah Veith and Kim Law were both injured last season. Should they stay healthy this year, they should each be mainstays in the top seven. Veith was 31st at the 2007 America East meet while Law placed eighth in the 1,500 at last season's conference outdoor track meet.

Junior Paulina Nunez is coming of a productive summer of training and appears to be the most improved veteran on the women's side heading into the season. Rachel Miura and Lindsay Raulli are the top freshmen this season.

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