The 2014 ACC Cross Country Championships will be held this Friday morning in Charlottesville, VA. The Syracuse Orange Men's team looks to defend their title while the Women will be facing a loaded race in their attempt to improve upon last year's 3rd place finish. Meet coverage will be available on ESPN3 with the women's race starting at 10 with the men's race following at 10:45.
Since we've talked a lot about the men's team this season, let's start with the women. Six ranked teams will make this one of the toughest conference meets in the country. Florida St (12th) looks to be the favorite over Virginia (13th), North Carolina (15th), Syracuse (16th), NC State (18th) and Boston College (30th). FSU was the 1st ACC team at the Wisconsin Invitational even with top runner Colleen Quigley having a slower than usual race.
Syracuse and North Carolina weren't far behind Virginia at Wisconsin, so the 2nd spot looks like it will be a very close race. For the Orange women to grab that 2nd spot, or be in position in case FSU struggles, the team will need to take a step forward from their last race in Madison. The 2-5 runners behind Margo Malone will need to keep closer contact throughout the 6k race and try to keep their splits closer together. At the Wisconsin meet, the 5th Syracuse runner was very close to the 5th runners on the other teams, but those schools put their 2nd runner much closer to their top. If Sydney Leiher and Jesse Petersen can put together strong races behind Malone, Syracuse will be in the mix.
Prediction for the SU Women: 3rd place behind FSU, and UVA.
The Syracuse men enter the ACC Championships as a solid favorite. After the Orange's dominating win in Madison, the team will not be able to sneak up on anyone for the rest of the season. In addition to the 3rd ranked Orange, the men's race will also feature #13 North Carolina, #15 Florida State and #18 NC State. However, unlike the women's race it would be a shock if anyone other than Syracuse wins.
Syracuse placed their top 7 runners in the first 25 places last year en route to a 20-point team win, and it wouldn't be a surprise if they improved upon their score of 64 this year. Martin Hehir is looking to add an ACC individual title to his impressive resume. Hehir won the Big East title 2 years ago and could become a rare two-conference champion.
Look for the Syracuse pack to try and control the race from the beginning and use their superior depth. This is also the final opportunity for the Syracuse runners to convince Coach Fox to call on them to race at NCAA Regionals, so expect the Orange to be pushing each other throughout the 8k race.
Prediction for the SU Men: The Orange add a 2nd ACC title in two years, plus valuable OrangeEagle Trophy bonus points, with Florida St, Virginia and UNC rounding out the top 4.
More information about the meet is available here.