The Syracuse Orange cross-country season wrapped up in the snow and cold in Madison Wisconsin on Saturday. Shannon Malone and the Syracuse men battled the best in the nation at the NCAA Championships and while the results weren’t what the team hoped to conclude their first season under Brien Bell, the Orange have a lot of optimism for the future.
Shannon Malone finished her XC career with a 60th place finish in the women’s 6k. This might not sound impressive based on pre-race expectations but Malone ran the race after being involved in an accident while running before the team departed. It appears that Shannon was clipped by a car during a training run and the unfortunate incident puts her race in perspective. It’s tough to race the best in the nation but even tougher when you head into the race less than 100%. Credit to Shannon for not making any excuses and gutting out her final XC race.
Without a Malone on next year’s squad it will be up to the returning Orange to take a bigger step forward and get the team to next year’s NCAA in Terre Haute. Dani Jones of the Colorado Buffaloes won the individual race and led the Buffs to the team title over the New Mexico Lobos. Colorado placed all five of their scorers in the top 26 places on their way to the impressive victory.
For the Syracuse men, a 26th place finish certainly didn’t wrap up the season as they hoped, but the Orange have a lot to be excited about for 2019. Joe Dragon was the top Syracuse finisher placing 90th and he was followed by Aidan Tooker in 123rd, Simon Smith in 152nd, Nathan Henderson in 189th and Noah Affolder in 190th. Kevin James (205th) and Dom Hockenbury (223rd) were the other Syracuse runners on Saturday. All of these men return in 2019 and will be pushed by a talented group of redshirts as the Orange look to reclaim their ACC title and get back on the NCAA podium.
What will drive the Orange is that the Washington Huskies ended up in 6th place in the country. This was a team that Syracuse dominated back in September in Boston and I know that the returning runners will use this as motivation in training. We expected this to be a transition season for Syracuse but there’s a lot of talent on the roster and they will bounce back.
Wisconsin Badgers’ star Morgan McDonald thrilled the home crowd by taking the win while the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks cruised to their third straight team title. The Syracuse distance group will rest and begin to prepare for the indoor track season in January.
Thanks to Brian Vasey for the excellent race photos.