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Syracuse Men’s Cross-Country makes 11th straight NCAA Championship appearance

The Orange keep their streak alive.

Cross Country: NCAA Championships
Nov 21, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; Syracuse runners celebrate after winning the team title during the 2015 NCAA cross country championships at Tom Sawyer Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dangerous course conditions forced an unprecedented change to the NCAA Cross-Country Northeastern Regional last week in Buffalo. Due to the snow and ice on the course, the races were moved to the roads on the SUNY Buffalo campus and the Syracuse Orange men were able to cruise to a second-place finish and automatic qualifier to next week’s NCAA Championships.

The Harvard Crimson swept both the men’s and women’s team competition with their men’s team scoring 59 points and placing three runners in the top five. Syracuse took 2nd with 86 points followed by the Iona Gaels with 96. All three teams will make the journey to Terre Haute and while the Orange are not title contenders this year it’s an opportunity for experience with six of seven runners set to return next year.

Joe Dragon led Syracuse with a sixth-place finish followed by Nathan Henderson in 10th. The other Orange scorers were Nathan Lawler in 21st, Kevin James in 22th and Dom Hockenbury in 27th. Matt Scrape in 47th and Nathan Beveridge in 54th were the other Syracuse runners last week. There was 33 seconds between Syracuse’s top 5 runners and the goal in Terre Haute will be to try and tighten that gap. Without a true front-runner it will be important for Syracuse’s pack to work together in a race where a few seconds means dozens of places.

The Syracuse women entered last week’s race with a NCAA berth within reach. Even missing Laura Dickinson the Orange had run a solid race at the ACC Championships and felt confident. That confidence continued at the 4k split on Friday morning as Amanda Vestri was leading the race and Syracuse was in second place as a team. Unfortunately Rachel Bonner fell (reportedly on some ice on the course) and was unable to finish. The Orange struggled the final 2k and wound up finishing fifth as a team with 203 points. Harvard won the women’s title with 92 points and the Cornell Big Red, Columbia Lions and Boston College Eagles all advanced to Terre Haute. Jordan Jacob led Syracuse with a 10th place finish with Vestri in 13th, Abigail Spiers in 46th, Justus Holden-Betts in 60th followed by Madeleine Davison in 74th and Kelsey Potts in 104th.

We’ll have more on the Syracuse men later this week as we preview the NCAA Championships. The Orange might not make a lot of noise this year but the future is looking up.