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Cross Country Kicks Off Season At Binghamton

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Cross Country Kicks Off Season At Binghamton

Binghamton XC Course Map

ALBANY, N.Y. – Coming off a season in which both the men’s and women’s teams finished fourth at the America East Championships, University at Albany men’s and women’s cross country programs travel to Binghamton this weekend to open the 2013 season at the America East Pre-Conference Meet.  The meet is scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday in Vestal, N.Y.

Traditionally, the UAlbany cross country team likes to open the season at the Monmouth Invitational, which takes place a week earlier and on a shorter course.  This year, however, head coach Matt Jones wanted an extra week of preseason training, to allow his athletes to build strength for the upcoming season.

The America East Pre-Conference meet is run each year on the course that will host the America East Championships later in the season.  This year, Binghamton will host the Championship meet.  The goal of the meet is to get the athletes acclimated to the course where they will compete for the conference championship. 

“Coach Jones isn’t giving out any performance goals for this weekend.  He just wants them to get used to the course, not put any extra pressure on them,” said Roberto Vives, Director of Track & Field and Cross Country.

Binghamton’s course is an out-and-back course, so the athletes will start and finish in largely the same location.  Athletes will also have to endure a series of hills on the course that make this particular venue more difficult.

“Some of the middle distance runners may find the course challenging,” Vives said.  “It’s probably better suited to a stronger runner, instead of a more speed-oriented athlete.”

The nature of the course, particularly the hills, is one reason Coach Jones wanted the extra time to train before the first meet.

“I think he’s training to the test,” Vives said with a smile.

Though all America East teams are invited to participate in the meet, attendance is not mandatory.  UAlbany will face off only against four other America East teams this weekend. The men will run 8k and the women will run 5k.

Neither the men’s nor the women’s team was awarded a spot in the Northeast Region pre-season rankings, which lists the top 15 team in each NCAA Division I region, but that isn’t deterring the coaching staff.

“We think the women’s team can move up in the rankings,” Vives said. “Our men’s team isn’t as deep as our women’s, but the men have some frontrunners on the roster.”

The men’s team enters the 2013 season having to replace seven athletes due to graduation, including Ethan Clary, who finished in fourth place individually at the America East Championships a year ago, as well as Aliaksandr Leuchanka, who finished in tenth place at the same meet.  The Danes will look to top returners Christopher Buchanan (Jr.) and James Sommer (So.) to lead them through the 2013 campaign.

The women’s team lost eight athletes to graduation from the 2012 squad, including Miranda McConnell and Melissa Del Rosario.  They return, however, top talent Brittney Lane (Sr.) and Kathryn Fanning (Sr.), who will help lead a deep women’s roster.  Last year, after finishing second individually at the America East Championships, Lane missed qualifying for Nationals by one spot, finishing her 6k in 20:24.2, good enough for sixth place at the Northeast Region Championships.  Fanning placed 77th in the same race, finishing in 21:35.9.

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