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Syracuse XC Teams on to Louisville

The Orange women came through when it mattered most

Cross Country: NCAA Championships
Justyn Knight added another win as he chases the NCAA title
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange will be well represented in Louisville at next week’s NCAA Cross Country Championships. While the men are there as expected, it is the Orange women who surprised most when they earned an at-large bid based upon the team’s 3rd-place finish in the Northeast Regional. It wasn’t easy, but on a brutally cold morning the Orange delivered a strong team effort over the final 3k to finish ahead of the Columbia Lions and get back to Nationals.

At the 3k mark of the 6k race, Syracuse was in 6th place in the team competition with 170 points. The five Syracuse scorers proceeded to pick up 43 places in the second half of the race to move into third. Paige Stoner (2nd) and Shannon Malone (3rd) were excellent up front for the Orange and the 3-4-5 combination of Madeleine Davison (18th), Rachel Bonner (32nd) and Eva Scott (62nd) made up significant ground at the end. Each of the five scorers gained position with Davison picking up 17 spots to move up the most and with Syracuse finishing just 3 points ahead of Columbia all the movement resulted in punching that ticket to Louisville.

The Orange will gain the benefit of the Stoner/Malone combination next Saturday. If the two of them can earn All-American honors, then Syracuse could end up finshing in the top 10.

The Syracuse men won their 5th straight (and 8 out of the last 9) Northeast Regional with a dominating performance. Justyn Knight recovered from a shoe mishap early in the race to cruise to the victory in front of Colin Bennie. Also finshing in the top were Aidan Tooker (6th) and Philo Germano (8th) while Dom Hockenbury (11th) earned the 5th spot for the Orange. Before the season, Joel Hubbard said Hockenbuy was made to run the 10k on grass and as the top freshman in the race he showed that he might be a major XC contributor for the Orange during his career.

Syracuse finshed 20 points ahead of the Iona Gaels and will head to Louisville looking to repeat 2015’s win at Tom Sawyer Park. In order to overtake expected favorites BYU and Northern Arizona, the Orange will need to turn in some outstanding performances. The pressure will be on those teams so we’ll see what Syracuse can do to overtake them Saturday morning.