The Syracuse Orange women’s cross-country team embarks on their first season since 2012 without one of the Malone sisters on the roster. Now that we’ve seen Margo, Mary and Shannon all conclude their careers, Syracuse will look to an experienced and talented transfer student to lead the way in 2019.
Webster, N.Y. native Amanda Vestri transferred after spending two years with the Iowa St. Cyclones. Vestri has compted in the NCAA XC Championships the last two years placing in 90th place in 2018 and in 160th place in 2017. She was also 14th in the 2019 NCAA Outdoor 10k and heads into this XC season with All-America potential. Her addition will help returners Laura Dickinson and Rachel Bonner as they look to take that next step in their careers and get the Syracuse women back to the NCAA Championships as a team.
That trio should be leading Syracuse while senior Madeleine Davison (23rd at last year’s ACC Championships), junior Emma Wilson (54th at ACC’s) and sophomore Abigail Spiers (60th at ACC’s) will look to hold spots in the top 7. Jordan Jacob joins Syracuse as a graduate transfer from the Boise State Broncos. Jacob finished 5th in the 10k at last spring’s Mountain West championships and she will add to the depth of the Orange squad.
Syracuse’s success in 2019 could be dependent on the emergence of other runners moving closer to the top four. The Orange have veteran runners Ryley Higgins, Kayli Jones, Kelsey Potts, Eva Scott and Maggie Toczko along with second-year runners Elizabeth Cultra, Olivia Elston, Eleanor Lawlor and Abigail Walsh looking to move up the line-up. Newcomers Emily Nugent and Justus Holden-Betts might find it difficult to have an impact this Fall but are runners to watch in the future.
Syracuse heads into this week’s Harry Lang Invitational as the 24th ranked team in the country and 5th in the Northeast Region in the USTFCCCA Pre-Season Polls. The ACC Coaches Poll has Syracuse 4th behind the defending champion NC State Wolfpack, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Florida State Seminoles.
While the addition of Vestri might not be enough to get Syracuse to the top of the ACC, she’s got the potential to challenge for the individual title this year. If she and Dickinson can run as well as they did at the end of the outdoor season the Orange could contend for top honors in the Northeast region and the automatic trip to the NCAA Championships. The women hope to make it back to Terre Haute for the 7th NCAA appearance this decade and this group heads into the season with a lot of potential.
Be sure to keep track of their progress here throughout the season.