XC : SU still striving to improve after moving into Top 10
When Heather Stephens found out Syracuse cracked the Top 10 on Tuesday, she wasn’t satisfied. The senior knows the Orange can still climb even higher in the rankings.
‘I was really happy when I heard the ranking,’ Stephens said. ‘I wasn’t ecstatic because it was something I expect at this point. By the end, I think we would like to be top five in the country.’
After an impressive third place finish at the Paul Short Invitational, the Orange women moved up from No. 12 to No. 8 in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country national coaches’ poll. Despite the strong showing last Friday, Syracuse still has plenty it can improve. The women’s team’s expectations are high for meets with top competition at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational and Pre-Nationals creeping up.
The Orange will use those meets to measure itself against nationally ranked opponents and prepare to take on Villanova and Providence —the programs that finished ahead of SU on Friday in first and second place, respectively —in the Big East championship during the last weekend of October.
After racing against its Big East rivals last weekend, the Syracuse harriers know those opponents are tough competition. But SU believes it can beat them down the road.
‘It was exciting to see that we have a decent shot at beating Villanova and Providence,’ junior Sarah Pagano said. ‘Whether we beat them or not, we can definitely run with them.’
Although the third place finish on Friday met head coach Chris Fox’s goal of third or better going into the meet, the runners still see a lot of room for improvement before the even bigger meets that are fast approaching.
After talking with associate head coach Brien Bell, the team admitted it can run better. In evaluating their performance, the harriers felt it was only mediocre overall. To compete with the best in the conference and in the country, and to accomplish the team’s goals moving forward, the team will have to better than average.
‘We talked to coach Bell about our performance as a whole, and if we were to grade it as a team, we would give it a B-minus,’ Stephens, who placed 45th overall at the Paul Short Invitational, said. ‘We made a solid effort, but there is still a lot more we can do to improve.’
Pagano, who placed seventh overall at the invitational with a time of 20:38, had a mutual feeling about the team’s performance.
She said the team can improve by working together during the race. In doing so, the runners can push each other to run hard from start to finish. Pagano said each girl knows what she needs to improve upon to help out the team as much as possible.
One strategy that Fox stresses is to run in packs, making sure no one is left behind.
‘Our big thing that we talk about on the starting line is if you pass a teammate, bring them with you, don’t just blow by them,’ Stephens said. ‘We just try to talk each other through the race and really work together because we’re in it as a team. It’s not an individual thing.’
For freshmen Shaylyn Tuite and Jessie Petersen, the Paul Short Invitational was their first real contest against Big East competitors and top-ranked teams. After getting that first taste of major competition, the young runners will be better prepared for the rest of the season.
‘The meet was a little nerve-racking, but it was a good test for all of us because we wanted to see where we were this year as a team,’ said Tuite. ‘I know as a freshman it gave me experience and having that is really good going into the final part of the season.’
Pagano said both freshmen have done well early on and just need to stay calm during the meets. Tuite said that knowing what to expect at a big meet will hopefully help her prepare better from a mental standpoint in the future.
‘I think we have a great group of girls with a ton of talent,’ Stephens said. ‘We were happy where we were last year, but I think with this group, it just may be the year to do something big.’
Thomas Wolfe is leaving his position as senior vice president and dean of student affairs to become the new president of Iliff School of Theology… Read more »
UPDATED: MAY 15, 4:35 p.m. Syracuse University students will soon see new living options in downtown Syracuse, after a new construction company revamps a vacant… Read more »
THEY'RE BACK: Syracuse pulls off furious comeback win against Yale to return to final four after longest absence since 1979
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Brian Megill sprinted over to Dominic Lamolinara and catapulted into his arms. The game was over. The unthinkable was no longer… Read more »