The Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams competed in the SUNYAC Championships on Saturday, Nov. 1 in Brockport, New York.
Despite being faced with bitter cold and rainy conditions at the event, the men’s team finished fifth overall in the 8K course, while the women took fourth place in the 6K. Both teams placed above their host, The College at Brockport.
The top finisher for the men’s team was fourth-year Mike Scher, placing fourth overall with a time of 25:46.0. Scher completed the race among the top five finishers, earning him a spot in the SUNYAC Cross Country Hall of Fame – an accolade that has never been accomplished in the history of either the men’s or women’s teams at New Paltz.
“It feels great,” Scher said. “I wouldn’t say that I was expecting it because the conference is filled with such talented runners, but I did what I have all year and raced my race – which happened to put me in that position.”
Head Coach Mike Trunkes said Scher’s dedication to his sport is what has propelled him to great race performances.
“He’s reaping the benefits of all of the work that he’s done now,” he said. “He’s packaging his ability, experience and fitness level all together so that he’s able to execute and have confidence in the races that he’s running.”
Second to cross the line for the men’s team was fourth-year Dave Lukas, notching a time of 25:58.0 at 10th place. First-year runner Nick Cruz was the third Hawk to finish, posting a 26:40.8 in the race and taking 26th place. The men’s team averaged 26:48 overall.
On the women’s side, fourth-year Terisa Woych was the top finisher for New Paltz, marking a time of 23:12.0 and picking up 13th place overall. This earned Woych Second Team All-SUNYAC Honors – the first in her collegiate career.
Third-year Gabby Mancuso was the second of her team to finish at 23:39.1, taking 22nd place. Third to cross the finish line for the Hawks was second-year Katie Gantley at 31st place, with a time of 24:19.2. The women’s team averaged 23:58.8 overall in the course.
Woych said the harsh weather conditions the day of the race made staying warm close to impossible.
“Staying warm was really important – and really difficult,” Woych said. “We stayed on the bus, with the heat blasted, until it was time to warm up. During the race, I wore cotton gloves, which blocked the wind chill, but my entire body was completely numb by the end of the race.”
Being that the weather in New Paltz has been relatively mild for November, Trunkes said, racing upstate is a test for the Hawks since they haven’t had much opportunity to acclimate themselves to cold-weather running yet this season.
“I think that to some extent, some of the upper state schools that live in the areas where the weather is not quite as nice as it is down here may have a bit of an advantage over us,” he said. “But now we know what to expect since there’s probably going to be similar conditions up in Rochester this weekend.”
The main goal for the women’s team as the season gets closer to its end, Woych said, is to step up in their last few meets to get ahead of some big contenders in the region.
“Our goal is to be tenacious and not be afraid to compete with the big names in the region, many of which are in our SUNYAC conference,” Woych said. “SUNYACs was a learning race for us. We went into the race looking to beat Cortland and Oneonta, but they’re strong teams and we need to bring our A game to regionals if we want to place ahead of them.”
This conference meet served as both team’s last race before the 2014 NCAA Div. III Atlantic Regionals this Saturday, Nov. 15, where the top seven runners from each team will compete.
Trunkes said he has bright prospects for both teams to put out what they have been doing all season to finish out strong in regionals this weekend.
“For the women I’m hoping we can finish out the season with a strong effort,” he said. “We’ve had some challenges, but what I’m looking for is them to come together as a team and let the chips fall where they may. They have the ability and talent to put it all together. For the men, the conversation I’ve had with them is that surprising things can happen. You don’t know how other teams will do or other runners will run, but if you execute and run your race you can finish out with a great season.”