Despite cold, snowy conditions in Buffalo on Friday the Syracuse Orange men’s cross country team and standout women’s runner Shannon Malone qualified for next weekend’s NCAA Championship in Madison Wisconsin.
Malone was the overall women’s winner as she completed the 6k course in a time of 21:28. Unfortunately the rest of the Orange weren’t able to replicate their ACC performances and the team came in a disappointing 6th, which ends their season. Mary Malone was 21st in a time of 22:21 and she was followed by Rachel Bonner in 32nd (22:37), Madeleine Davison (49th in 22:55) and Abigail Spears (52nd in 22:57). The Columbia Lions and Dartmouth Big Green earned the team qualifiers for the Northeast region.
Shannon will represent Syracuse at next weekend’s NCAA meet. Last year she was 73rd and this year she will look to earn All-America status. Without Shannon and Mary next season, the Orange will need the returning runners to keep progressing as they try to earn their way back to Nationals as a team.
The Syracuse men won their 9th regional title in the last 10 years by holding off the Iona Gaels 79-88. Unlike last race, the Orange closed stronger than their opponent over the last part of the race to take the win. Aidan Tooker (6th in 32:56), Joe Dragon (7th in 32:58) and Dom Hockenbury (8th in 33:01) led the way for Syracuse who were without one of their top runners with Noah Affolder out. Simon Smith stepped up with a 17th place finish in 33:28 and Kevin James moved up 13 places in the final 3k to grab 41st in a time of 33:59.
It will be a challenge for the team to improve upon last year’s 13th place finish if Affolder doesn’t compete in Madison, but without the pressure of expectations the Orange could surprise. I’d expect to see Tooker pushing for a top 10 spot and Dragon might be on the verge of breaking through. We’ll do a more in-depth preview later this week.