Like I anticipated yesterday, I've got a serious urge not to publish on Christmas itself, so we're wrapping up the Twelve Days of Bull Run Christmas with the final two days this afternoon. It's two men's sports to round out the dozen: Cross Country reaching their highest ever ranking in the long-winded but appropriately named USA Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Northeast Regional Poll, and, of course, Javon McCrea not only ascending to #1 in the all-time UB scoring books, but became the first Bull to top 2,000 career points, as well.
.... Eleventh in the Northeast...
Unlike many of our best memories, cross country didn't really enjoy a massive, breakout performance this fall that put them on everyone's radar. Cross country as a sport is kind of inimical to massive, breakout performances.
What we did get from the UB harriers was a solid season that saw steady improvement and big individual performances when teammates had off days. Most notably, when Cam Bruce had a tough start in the MAC Championship meet, Alec Peinkofer threw down a career-best to lead the Bulls, while Andrew Berge ran a strong race in the fifth spot. Though UB would certainly have hit top-three in the MAC had Bruce been at top form, the fourth-place finish was still the second-best result in program history.
The highlight of the Cross Country season, however, was UB's showing at the Paul Short Invitiational in early October. The men finished 7th out of 42 teams and thanks to that strong showing entered the regional rankings at 14th the following week. A series of steady performances helped Buffalo inch up and by the season-ending poll UB was at an all-time high of 11th in the Northeast.
It's probably one of the lesser-known successes of the year, but it's yet another program high for a UB team, who, honestly, never really put together their best possible day in climbing the rankings. Watch out next year.
... Twelve hits 2000.
The twelfth and final day of Bull Run Christmas celebrates UB's Number 12 who should really have his jersey retired, but we're told that's not something the school does anymore.
We've always known Javon McCrea was a special player, and his senior year lived up to that billing as he moved to the top of the UB record books, passed 2000 career points in his final game, and even hit his first career three-pointer in his final home game.
I long ago ran out of ways to restate the Javon praise, so I'll just quote his senior salute, in which I had already run out of new ways to word it and was left then to quote old posts:
I've run out of things to say.
I started calling him 'The Kraken' mostly because I was sick of finding new ways to refer to him.
He's UB's all-time leading scorer. He's UB's top modern-era rebounder.
When he was honored for moving to the top of the record books, he refused to stand alone and had his whole team join him for the photo.
He's a handful of games from 2000 career points and 1000 career rebounds.
Just show up to F@!#ing Alumni tomorrow and cheer your lungs out for the best player any of us will see in a long time.
To make sure Javon isn't shortchanged, I'll include links to some of the many, many words I've written on his incredible career in Amherst.
And yes, that tomahawk dunk in the Koessler Center, from the player my father called 'the man-child', is still my absolute favorite Javon McCrea memory.
Remembering the stellar closing to a wonderful career in the Blue and White, we've come to the final day in the Twelve Days of Bull Run Christmas. Be sure to follow the links at the top of this post to recap the other ten highlights I chose from this year.