It’s little surprise in today’s Cross Country season opener that Syracuse claimed easy victories in both the Men’s and Women’s races at Colgate’s Harry Lang Invitiational. The Orange are, after all, ranked #1 in the country on the Men’s side and #15 on the Women’s, and even when teams don’t bring their top runners to the season openers, the Orange have a top-to-bottom program.
That said, the UB Women in particular put together a strong performance in racing to a second-place finish among a field consisting of the Orange, Binghamton, Albany, Colgate, and SUNY Cobleskill, claiming third over the Great Danes thanks to freshman Meghan LaTuso coming in in the fifth spot five seconds ahead of Albany’s fifth runner.
UB did not field an all-freshmen lineup, but saw four of their scoring five and five of their top seven come from their first year contributors, and the second place team finish was an improvement by two spots over last year, with the Bulls jumping Albany.
Last year's lineup from the Harry Lang looks a little more like UB's regulars over the rest of the season,so I'm hesitant to draw too much of a comparison, but Stephanie Ward's time there today would have placed her in the Bulls top seven at the same meet in 2015. She may be a young runner to keep an eye on this season.
The Men finished fourth, behind the Orange, Albany, and Binghamton, but stack up closer to the Bearcats than it might look. Unfortunately, it's a familiar refrain for the Bulls, as Binghamton claimed the third place finish thanks to three runners in before Buffalo's first, even though UB's five, and in fact their whole first seven, were in before Binghamton's fifth runner.
Again, it's not an entirely freshman lineup, but first-years enjoy a solid presence here. It's very good to see even the younger group running together in a pack; 13 seconds from one to five is excellent. I'm glad to see a good time from McCarthy, who had a strong track season and may be poised for a big year.
The Bulls move up from sixth at this meet last year, jumping Colgate but getting jumped by Binghamton and benefitting from Bucknell and Navy's absence. Looking to 2015, the men ran a few ticks faster; all of UB's top five today would have slotted between the team's second and third runners last year, and all of the top seven would have been faster than last year's fifth man.
It's a lighter-than-normal schedule for the Bulls this year, who won't host their annual UB Stampede until Friday, September 16, and then take two more weeks off before the Paul Short Invite in Pennsylvania kicks off October.