Special to the Leader
The Fredonia men and women’s cross country teams raced at the Atlantic Regional Preview this weekend at Houghton College. The women came fifth out of 16 teams in a 6,000-meter race, and the men came sixth out of 16 teams in an 8,000-meter race — a season best for the men at a large invitational.
In collegiate cross country, points are scored by the top five individuals from each team, with the sixth and seventh runners counting as displacement runners, who are scored only if there is a tie between two teams. Each runner scores points equal to his or her overall place in the race, and the team with the lowest score wins.
The Fredonia men scored a total of 200 points with senior Merlin Joseph leading the team in a personal best of 25:29.
“I feel like I did pretty well. I executed what I wanted to in the race and stayed poised, and then the time came,” said Joseph, finishing fifth overall in the race. “As a team, I think we did overall okay. We had the same team average as we did in Geneseo, but I think we have a lot of room to grow.”
Joseph was followed by junior Ethan Francis in a time of 26:06. The scoring five was rounded out by freshman Wesley Cruz, senior Mitch Loiacono and sophomore Aidan Pollard. The displacement runners for the team were freshman Ryan Dunning and sophomore Kyle Egan.
“We definitely have a lot of work to do to get where we want to go,” said Dunning. “Personally, I feel like I dropped the ball a little bit . . . I could attribute it to my training, but I think it was just a lapse on my part.
“I think going forward, the harder workouts will help us improve a lot,” said Dunning when asked what he thought the team could do to improve. “The three through six places can work together through the races as opposed to running separately. I think that would really help us.”
The Fredonia women were led in a breakout race by junior Emily Maguire to a team score of 140. Maguire came ninth overall with a time of 23:46 and was followed by junior Brenna Donovan in 11th place with a time of 23:55. The following scorers for the women were seniors Kristen Guarino and Maddie Courtney, followed by freshman Sarah Kurbs. Displacement runners for the women were freshman Sarah Buckley and sophomore Kelly O’Hara.
Junior Eric Doud, an injured runner for the men’s team, came out to support the teams and aid coach Tom Wilson and assistant coach Ryan Pericozzi.
“I think the men had a stronger performance than the women. A lot of things happened on the women’s side that I wasn’t expecting to see,” said Doud. “On both sides, the first mile was a lot faster than most people expected. Brenna paid for that a little bit, and then Emily took advantage of it. Merlin took advantage of that, too.”
The next race for the men and women’s cross country teams will be Oct. 14 at the University of Rochester Yellowjacket invitational, where they will be racing against a large group of teams.
Editor’s note: Aidan Pollard is a member of the Fredonia men’s cross country team.