The Syracuse Orange track and field squads head to Boston this weekend to compete in the 2016 ACC Indoor Track Championship. Last year, the men finished 6th while the women were 10th. This year, the Syracuse men have emerged as a contender for the team title, which is something that most didn't see coming, due to the lack of competitors in several events.
Yesterday we previewed the sprints and jumps, so today we look at the distance events. If the Syracuse men are going to contend for the team title, they are going to need to load up the points in the distance events. While the women might not be ready to compete for a title this season, they have a number of athletes to watch over the next two days.
***Thursday DMR Update***
The Syracuse women's DMR finished 6th in a time of 11:26.51 with Sydney Leiher turning in a 4:38 mile to anchor the squad. The men's DMR was narrowly defeated by Virginia. The Cavaliers turned in a time of 9:36.27 to edge out the Syracuse squad, which finished in 9:36.74, which established a new school record in the event.
800m- Elizabeth Reynolds (2:13.76)has been racking up the personal records this season, but in an event where 12 runners have run faster than 2:10, she'll have her work cut out making the final. Duke's Anima Banks holds the fastest time heading into the meet.
Mile- Sydney Leiher (4:39.14) has had a breakthrough season, and she enters with the 3rd fastest-seed time in the event. She also is within striking distance of the Syracuse school record of 4:37.41 set by Lauren Penney. Karina Ernst (4:55.24) is also entered for Syracuse and she will face the fastest runner, Megan Moye of NC State, in her heat.
3000m- Margo (9:37.74) and Shannon Malone (9:50.13) will compete in the unseeded heat in this event. The sisters will look to post a solid time and hope the seeded section is a tactical race, which usually happens in a meet where the athletes are competing in multiple events. NCAA XC Champ Molly Seidel from Notre Dame has the top seed with her time of 8:57.13
5000m- Margo Malone (16:50.79) will return to the track for the 5k, where she will be joined by Shaylyn Tuite (16:49.70). Tuite has had a strong track season and hopes to keep the momentum going in Boston, in an event where once again Seidel is the favorite.
800m- Paul Lovell (1:53.22) is the lone Orange entrant in this event and his time is outside of the top 20 in the ACC this season. Jake Burton from Florida St has the fastest seed time with a 1:48.54.
Mile- With Justyn Knight not entered, Joel Hubbard (3:58.43) and Adam Palamar (3:58.55) are the top 2 seeds in the event, which includes 2 other Sub-4 milers. Nick Ryan (4:07.74) will be looking to make the Final and earn some valuable team points.
3000m- This is a tough event to preview, because it will be held on Saturday towards the end of the meet. If everyone runs as entered, Justyn Knight (7:48.71) and Colin Bennie (7:49.80) would be expected to battle with Virginia Tech's Thomas Curtin. If the team competition is decided by this point, I'd expect Knight to not race (after competing in the DMR and 5000m), and Bennie to possibly do the same. Both runners have qualified for the NCAA meet in the event.
Philo Germano (8:02.23) and Kevyn Hoyos (8:04.01) are also scheduled for the 3k/5k double and if they run, will look to help the Orange in a heat which includes four Syracuse runners, four Virginia runners, and three from Virginia Tech. In the unseeded section, Mickey Burke (8:11.51) and Kevin James (8:19.39 will be part of a massive 35 runner field as they look to run personal bests and possibly finish with a time that can factor in the scoring.
5000m- This event will be on Friday evening and it might be one of the best races in the country this weekend. Knight (13:36.92) and Bennie (13:38.81) will face off against Curtin (13:37.10) and NC State's Luis Vargas (13:37.09). While we don't expect to see times that fast, it should be tightly contested. Hoyos and Germano will be key factors in helping the Orange maximize team points.
An ACC team championship would be another step forward for the Syracuse program, as it continues to change the national perception that the team is only a cross-country program. We'll provide updates throughout the weekend as the Orange look to bring back another ACC Championship for the 15-16 year, but before we leave, here's what Coach Fox and some of the athletes had to say before they departed: