Syracuse, Providence Tops at Northeast Regionals

***Knight, Giordano Claim Individual Titles***
By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom

(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)

(13-NOV) — The men of Syracuse and women of Providence stamped their
tickets to the NCAA Division I Cross Country National Championships by
winning the Northeast Regional team titles here today on a blustery,
cold fall afternoon. Individually, Syracuse sophomore Justyn Knight and
Dartmouth senior Dana Giordano finished atop the results, earning their
first regional crowns.


after an October win here at the Boston College Coast to Coast Battle
in Beantown, Justyn Knight and the Orange entered Regionals familiar
with Franklin Park’s undulating and repetitive course. Following coach
Chris Fox’s orders, the Orange bunched together from the gun and ran as
a pack through eight kilometers. The savvy decision to pack run and
conserve energy was wise, though nearly backfired: in the opening miles
there were at least four falls within the extremely large lead group of
close to 100 runners.

The race
resembled more of a Massachusetts Turnpike traffic jam than a foot
race, with fender benders –and countless bloody spike wounds– as a

“At the start there was a
couple of falls. I don’t even know where, but a Dartmouth kid went down
pretty bad and I think an Iona kid went down, too,” said Knight, a
Canadian from Vaughan, Ontario. “We had to be careful of that. We knew
what we were going into if we stayed a little further off from the
front. You’ve just got to keep aware of your surroundings so you don’t

At 8-K the race would begin to
take form, with the Orange’s Knight, Colin Bennie, Martin Hehir, Joel
Hubbard, Dan Lennon, and Philo Germano all within five seconds of the
lead. Iona’s top five were also alongside (led by Kieran Clements,
Gilbert Kirui, and Mike O’Dowd), while Ivy Leaguers Kevin Dooney (Yale)
and Ben Rainero (Cornell) stuck with the pack.

like in September, though, Syracuse was destined for victory. Coming
around Franklin Park’s Playstead field for the final time, Knight,
Bennie, and Hehir entered the homestretch out front, establishing a
winning trifecta that couldn’t be trumped. Knight sprinted in for the
individual crown in 30:28.9, quickly looking back to see Bennie and
Hehir finish second and third in 30:29.6 and 30:30.1, respectively.

Hubbard and Lennon rounding out the scoring five in 11th and 12th,
Syracuse won the team title with a mere 29 points. Iona finished 11
points adrift of their New York rivals in second, with Cornell (114),
Dartmouth (153), and Columbia (156) completing the top five teams.

race went really well. We executed it the way that we wanted to,” said
Knight following a lengthy cool down. “We were instructed not to do
anything until five miles and then when that came we picked it up a bit
and were able to finish well.”

Clements claimed fourth place (30:33.8), followed by Cornell’s Rainero
(30:34.5) and Iona teammates Gilbert Kirui (30:36.1) and Mike O’Dowd

Looking ahead to the NCAA
National Championships on Saturday, November 21, in Louisville,
Syracuse coach Fox said his team is rounding into top shape at the
right time. Their goal remains a top-three trophy.

wanted to come in here and see if we could score 30 points,” said Fox.
“I was proud of them… I’d like to get a trophy. I told you that a
long time ago, that I want a trophy and anything from [nationals] is a
bonus. We’ve been waiting four or five years to get a trophy, so it’s
very important to us. We seem to be in a really good spot, and we’ll
definitely take a shot.”

When asked
about two-time reigning NCAA team champion Colorado, Fox said it would
take a stellar performance –and some harsh luck– to defeat Mark
Wetmore’s Buffaloes.

“An epidemic of
flu in the Boulder county or something to that effect,” Fox said. “They
are better than us, you know. Obviously, weird things happen in cross
country all the time. But they are a better team than us, and Stanford
has super talent. Those are two great teams. We have to have a special


the starting gun, Dartmouth’s Dana Giordano went straight to the front
and held on to the pole position. Through the mile in 5:25, she was
joined by a very large contingent that included Providence’s Sarah
Collins and Stony Brook’s Christina Melian.

had a disappointing run at nationals last year –where she was tripped
in the opening kilometer and wound up 45th– Giordano was supremely
motivated to clinch a spot at NCAA’s and head to Louisville with
momentum. Through two miles she kept her five-meter lead on the
aforementioned duo, a determined look on her face.

before the final turn some 300 meters from the finish, it looked as if
Collins and Melian had executed a perfect sit-and-kick strategy,
surpassing Giordano. But the Dartmouth senior used a slingshot move
around the bend to catapult to the pole, kicking with a vengeance and
fiery spirit. Her gap would extend to 3.3 seconds at the line, where
she lifted her hands in excitement with 20:25.7 on the clock.

really, really happy. It’s been a crazy season all around, some ups and
downs, struggling with a couple things, but I’m happy to be here,” said
Giordano, visibly excited and relieved. “I was ready to go [around the
final turn]. I could have gone sooner, but I was just waiting. I was
right behind them.”   

As pointed out by‘s
Jonathan Gault, Giordano gave Dartmouth their fourth Northeast Regional
women’s individual title in five years. Abbey D’Agostino claimed crowns
in three straight years from 2011 through 2013, and was on hand today
cheering her former teammates on.

think since last season I’ve been motivated by my unfortunate fall at
nationals,” Giordano said, speaking of her strategy. “I felt good so I
thought why not string it out [in the Wilderness loop].”

was led to the women’s team title by runner-up Collins, crossing in
20:29.0 ahead of Stony Brook’s Melian (20:29.5). The Friars placed five
women in the top 17, though coach Ray Treacy had mixed emotions about
the race.

“I think we were a little
bit flat today. They came in after we’d trained hard this week with
next Saturday in mind,” Treacy told Race Results Weekly. “Just one more
goal now, and we’ll see what happens Saturday. There will be a lot of
teams gunning for second I think. We weren’t the second place team
today, let’s put it that way. We weren’t even a podium team, I think,
the way we performed today. But next weekend is a whole different

Collins said the team is
simply focused on performing their best at nationals in Louisville, a
course Providence knows all too well. The Friars finished a
heartbreaking second there in 2012, when chip timing problems
originally announced the team as national champions before protests
were filed.

“To do as well as we can
as individuals, and then put it all together to come out with the top
team score can hopefully, maybe, get on the podium. But I don’t like
jinxing things or saying things too far ahead!” said Collins with a
giggle. “Take one step at a time and get as top a finish as we can.”

NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships will be held at
Louisville’s E.P. ‘Tom’ Sawyer State Park on Saturday, November 21.
Race Results Weekly will be on hand to provide exclusive coverage
leading up to the race, as well as on race day.

Dana Giordano of Dartmouth on her way to winning the 2015 NCAA
Northeast Regional Cross Country Championships individual title in
Boston, Mass. (Photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

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