XC Returns to Van Cortlandt for Northeast Regional Championship
ALBANY, N.Y.—Two weeks after competing in the America East Conference championship, the University at Albany men and women’s cross country team will resume action this weekend at the 2016 Northeast Regional meet. The Great Danes will return to Van Cortlandt park in the Bronx on Friday, November 11.
Hosted by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the meet will feature 41 schools in both the men and women’s races.
“This is pretty much the culminating event of our season,” said Head Coach Matt Jones. “It will also give us our final regional rank, so we’re looking to put our best foot forward. We want it to be our best effort of the season at 6K and 10K. We’re looking to do the best we can.”
While UAlbany has already competed at Van Cortlandt park twice this year, the course will change for this meet. The men’s race has been increased from an 8K to a 10K. The women will face a 6K, which is different from their typical 5K.
“The goal of this meet is to qualify the best teams out of our region for nationals,” explains Jones. “They take the hills out of the course because nationals is eight days later, and they don’t want to tax the athletes too much, so it’s mostly a flat trail with a lot of repetition.”
“A lot of our girls have the mindset for a 5K,” Jones said. “We’re still growing in the 6K. It’s a good experience for the underclassmen. Hannah Smith and Schuyler Pruyn are seniors and have competed at this level before. The team had a pretty good race last year, so we’re hoping to have the whole group move up from where we were at conference two weeks.”
Last year, Providence won the women’s team title, Syracuse placed second, and Brown third. UAlbany placed 14th overall with Jessica Donohue as the frontrunner for the women’s team, finishing 33rd in 21:39.
“At conference, Hannah Smith was our first girl to finish," Jones said. "She’s coming off an injury, so i think she's still improving. Hannah Reinhardt is having a great freshman outing. Schuyler Pruyn is also coming off an injury and doing well this season. Cara Sherman also has the potential to have a strong race. Nira Lovick is a track person transitioning to cross country-- I think she can have a good race and it will be a tremendous learning experience for the freshman class. I think we can improve across the board and be better than we were at conference.”
“We’re gonna have the same group competing from conference,” Jones said. “We came out a little flat at conference, and I’m hoping for a better effort at regionals. If we can keep the same gap, and move up the group, that will put us in a good position. We should have had people place further up in conference, so we’re hoping that they move up at regionals, and run a steadier race.”
Syracuse won the men’s team title for the second year in a row, followed by Iona in second, and Cornell in third. UAlbany finished 25th overall. Kyle Gronostaj was the first-finisher for the Great Danes, placing 50th overall in a time of 31:47.
“I think the men had a pretty good conference meet,” Jones said. “It takes five to move on as a team. I think Kyle Gronostaj and Ryan Udvadia, healthy, could do better at the longer distance. Jake Johnson did a great job at his first conference.Tyler Ranke and Calvin Butlak both had decent races, but I still think they have better races in them. I think Keith Machabee will also do better with longer distance. All of them have the potential for a better race, and I think we can do better as a team at regionals”
“We want to have a good performance this weekend,” said Jones. “Even though we’re working through injuries, we’re looking for a solid effort. We can use regionals as a springboard for indoor track, and if we get lucky send some athletes to nationals.”
The women’s 6K race begins at 11:00 a.m., followed by the men’s 10K at 12:00 p.m. The women have drawn Box 17 between Vermont and Maine. The men have also drawn Box 17 between St. Francis (N.Y.) and Marist.