The Syracuse Orange cross-country teams head to Louisville on Friday to compete in the 2017 ACC Championships. While the Orange hope that it won’t be their last trip to Louisville, site of this year’s NCAA Championships, they are also not looking past this competition.
The Orange women were 5th in last year’s Championships and have a chance to improve upon that despite missing three of the top five from 2016. Paige Stoner’s in position to make a big leap from her 17th place finsh last year and could be in contention for a top-5 finsh. Syracuse will need other strong performances from the rest of the roster if they want to try to grab the second spot behind heavy favorite and defending champions the N.C. State Wolfpack. Shannon Malone ran well at Wisconsin and the Orange will need to get their 3-5 runners closer to the top 2. This means that a couple runners from the group of Rachel Bonner, Eva Scott, Madeleine Davison, Chelsie Pennello, Taylor Spillane, Maggie Toczko, and Olivia Elston must emerge this week.
After the big meets two weeks ago, Syracuse projected into the fifth spot among ACC teams after NC State, Virginia Tech, Duke and Louisville. These teams along with Virginia and Notre Dame should be engaged in a tight battle. The Orange women face an uphill climb to get back to the NCAA’s but they can take a step forward with a strong performance this week.
Like the NC State women, the Syracuse men are heavy favorites to win the team title. The Orange haven’t lost this meet since joining the conference and don’t look for that to change this year. Justyn Knight is also looking to defend his 2016 title and he’ll be tested by Peter Seufer from Virginia Tech, but I don’t think Knight will have trouble getting the win.
Last year Syracuse got all 5 scorers in the top 10. I don’t think the Orange have that kind of depth this year, but it shouldn’t keep them from keeping the championship trophy. One thing that will be interesting this week is to see who steps up as that 5th man for Syracuse and how close will they be to the top four. This week is important for the second group of men-Kevin James, Joe Dragon, Dom Hockenbury, Griff Molino, Simon Smith, Mickey Burke and Noah Affolder are all pushing to grab those coveted top 7 spots for NCAA’s next month. Keep an eye on this group to see if someone can show the Syracuse coaching staff that they are ready to be trusted with one of those spots.