The Syracuse Orange cross country teams took the line at Franklin Park on Friday morning with hopes of coming back on I-90 with ACC Championships. The Orange men just missed their 6th straight ACC title (and 7th straight conference championship) as they couldn’t hold off the Notre Dame Fighting Irish over the final 1.5k. Notre Dame took the title scoring 57 points, Syracuse followed with 61 points and N.C. State Wolfpack was third with 85 points. Peter Seufer of the Virginia Tech Hokies was the individual winner with a time of 23:30 on the 8k course.
Aidan Tooker was the top runner for the Orange but his 8th place finish was not what he hoped and he’ll be motivated over the final two races. Joe Dragon picked up spots down the stretch to finish right behind Tooker in 9th. Kevin James (12th), Noah Affolder (13th), and Nathan Henderson (19th) were the other scorers for Syracuse.
The race started with about 60 runners within three seconds of the lead. Notre Dame’s runners were positioned towards the front of this large group but Syracuse moved up and at the 5k split had a small lead. At that point the Orange had eight runners ahead of Notre Dame’s 5th man, but in the last 3k the Irish were able to move up enough to secure the title. With both schools bringing back all of the scorers from today’s race, this is shaping up to be quite a battle for ACC supremacy in the near future.
After the race Head Coach Brien Bell took responsibility for the results. Perhaps Bell feels that Syracuse wasn’t focused enough, or had trained too hard leading up to the meet, but this short video underscores his commitment to the success of his athletes and is reason why so many lobbied for him to take over as Head Coach this summer.
So if Bell accepts responsibility for the men, he should also accept some congratulations for the performance of the Orange women. Syracuse welcomed back Shannon Malone and she delivered a 5th place finish as the Orange came in 3rd as a team with 83 points. NC State won the title for the 3rd year in a row as they edged out Notre Dame 67 to 68 with Louisville Cardinals’ runner Dorcas Wasike taking the individual 6k title. Laura Dickinson (11th), Rachel Bonner (18th), Madeleine Davison (23rd) and Mary Malone (26th) were the other Syracuse scorers.
The 3rd place finish tied the highest ever conference championship finish for the women and Syracuse looks to be performing well heading into the final two meets. Getting Malone back was a big key as her ability to be in the front of the pack allows the other runners to slot in with less pressure. Dickinson continues to run well in her 1st XC season and it was a very good sign to see Syracuse pick up 14 places from the 4.6k split to the finish of the 6k race.
Both Syracuse teams will regroup and prepare for NCAA Northeast Regionals on November 9th. At Regionals, the top two teams automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. The men will move up to the 10k distance while the women remain at 6k. We’ll see how the Syracuse women use the momentum they are building and how the Orange men rebound from this weekend’s disappointment.