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Cross Country Heads South For Meet Of Champions

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Cross Country Heads South For Meet Of Champions

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ALBANY, N.Y. – The University at Albany men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel to the Bronx’s famed Van Cortlandt Park this weekend to compete in Iona’s 19th Annual Br. Doyle Meet of Champions.  The meet will gather teams from a total of 21 schools, with 19 competing for both the men and women.  The women’s 6k (6100m) race is scheduled to kick off at 9:30 a.m. and the men will follow with an 8k at 10:15 a.m.

Van Cortlandt Park will play host to two meets later in the season:  the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship on November 15 and the IC4A/ECAC Championship on November 23.  Attending the meet will give the Danes a preview of the course they will compete on later in the year, but with one notable caveat.

“The NCAA regional is going to be run at this site but the course will be different,” said Roberto Vives, Director of Track and Field and Cross Country.  “It will give us a chance to see the regional course and run on a portion of it.”

“Part of our warm-down will be to review the actual regional course,” said head cross country coach Matt Jones.

UAlbany returns to the Meet of Champions after passing on the event a year ago.  In total, UAlbany has fielded a team seven times in the 19 iterations of the race, including this weekend.  The men have finished in third place each of the last two times they have attended the meet (2011, 2010).  The women earned their highest ever finish as a team the last time around, finishing in fourth place (2011).

However, despite competing at this meet in the past, there will be a certain amount of unfamiliarity with the renowned cross country site.

“There has been major construction on the course over the last year, so we aren’t quite sure what the course will be like,” said Jones.

The last time the Danes competed the women finished first and the men finished fourth at the America East Pre-Conference meet.  Brittany Lane won meet individually for the women, finishing only nine seconds off the course record.  Christopher Buchanan was the highest place finisher on the men’s side, finishing sixth overall.

With only one meet in the books, Coach Jones has a better idea of the identities of the men’s and women’s teams this year, but there are still things that need to come into focus.

“The men’s team isn’t so much young as they are inexperienced.  Those who are young are still making the adjustment to 8k races from the 5k’s they ran in high school.  The race this weekend gives them an opportunity to run another 8k and gives us a chance to see which of them might be best suited to move up to 10k,” said Jones.

Two weeks ago the women beat Vermont, who is ranked 13th in the Northeast region.  This weekend, Iona, Yale, and Brown are in the field of competitors UAlbany will face, and all three are ranked in the Northeast.  How the women perform against the field will show Coach Jones how they match up with the competition they will face moving forward.

“We beat Vermont and didn’t move into the rankings,” Jones said. “The women need to beat people head-to-head.  Performing well against Northeast ranked teams should help us break in.”

Regional rankings identify the top 15 teams in each region.  The women were ranked for the first time ever in 2012 when they finished the season ranked 14th.  To this point in the 2013 campaign, the women have yet to be ranked, something Coach Jones hopes will change.

“We may be racing a little tired on Saturday.  We had a hard week of workouts, and our athletes are still conditioning and transitioning into different types of training.  But I am pleased with the training that we have done so far and we’re moving in the right direction,” Jones said.

“I’m hopeful for good performances this weekend, but I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t all come together,” Jones added.  “We are only at the end of our second two-week cycle of training, and our fourth week with the full group.  Right now, it’s still early in the season and we’re working with the end in mind.  Everything we do in September and October is intended to work as a positive push for what we want to do in November.”


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