The Syracuse Orange men’s cross-country continued their winning streak this past weekend at the Penn State Spiked Shoe Invitational. Led by sophomore transfer student Iliass Aouani, who finished 1st overall in a time of 26:17 for the 5.2 mile course, the Orange took the title with a score of 19 points. This put them well ahead of second-place Cornell who had 60 points. Even though this was the first weekend for meets to count towards NCAA at-large qualification, Syracuse held out top runners Justyn Knight and Colin Bennie. Finishing behind Aouani for the Orange were Philo Germano (2nd place in 26:24), Joel Hubbard (3rd place in 26:25), Kevin James (6th place in 26:38), and TJ Hornberger (7th place in 26:40).
While the pace was slowed by the humidity and the lack of a challenge for the Orange, Aouani’s debut is very promising for Syracuse’s NCAA title hopes. If he can continue to run in the top 5 and keep that gap between the first 5 close, the Orange will be tougher to knock off in November. Another positive sign was Kevin James being 4th in his 1st Syracuse race as a redshirt freshman. James has impressed many around the program and as we’ve seen it’s often someone outside the top 5 stepping up at a big moment that makes the difference between winning and losing.
On the flip side, there is something to watch for when the Orange head to Virginia. Experienced runners Adam Palamar and Adam Visokay were a bit off the pace at Penn State, so we’ll see how they respond. It’s early in the season and the teams are training through races, so there is no reason to assume that these guys are not going to be in the mix. We should also see Knight and Bennie debut in two weeks and Syracuse fans should be excited to see where those guys are in 2016.
For the Syracuse women, it’s the newcomers leading the way for the second week in a row. Madeleine Davison took 3rd in a time of 21:11 for 6k. She was followed by McKenzie Altmayer (11th place in 21:36), Paige Stoner (15th place in 21:45), Emma Wilson (16th place in 21:47), and Sydney Leiher (22nd place in 22:09). Davison’s time matched that of Margo Malone last year, and while it’s hard to compare times across years, it’s a very good sign for the Orange . Syracuse took 3rd place in the team competition behind Penn State and Georgetown. The women remained ranked as the #2 team in the Northeast region and the new talent has shown that a return trip to the NCAA Championships is within reach. As with the men, we don’t want to jump to conclusions about the status of returning runners, but it’s worth watching to see if they can catch up to the pace the newcomers are setting.
Syracuse is back in action in two weeks at the Panorama Farms Invitational at Virginia. Until then, stay up to date on our “Get to Know Your Orange Runner” series.