Fresh off its the best finish since 1995 at the MAAC Championships for the men's team, the Canisius College men’s and women’s cross country teams will now compete at the NCAA Northeast Regionals on Friday.
The Griffs will head to the Van Cortlandt Park -- the same venue that the hosted the MAAC Championships to compete against 40 of the nation’s top programs.
“I tell the athletes that this is one of the best meets in the country and one of the most competitive races they’ll ever run,” said head coach Nate Huckle. “The Northeast Region is a very competitive region and to even finish in the top-100 [individually] is an accomplishment. I just tell them to take advantage of the opportunity to rise to the occasion against the best of the best.”
The Canisius men are coming off a second place finish that saw each of Canisius’ top-five finishers place in the top-21 overall.
Once again, the Griffs were led up front by sophomore Cooper Roach, who finished ninth overall (26:03). Roach was followed closely by freshman Jeff Antolos (26:22) and sophomore Michael Anvelt (26:23). The top-five was rounded out by another pair of freshmen Brennan Root and Xavier Sauvageau.
Canisius’ first and fifth runners were only separated by 51 seconds.
“If we want to move up into the top-15, we’ve got to keep that gapping moving forward,” Huckle said. “I think that we’re capable of finishing between 15th and 20th, but how close to 15th depends on how the cards lay out that day. I’d like to see Cooper somewhere between 50th and 70th and hopefully get three or four guys in the top-100, then we can have a good day.”
On the women’s side, senior Mikelle Cala was the Griffs’ top-finisher for the second-consecutive season. She completed the 6k-course in 23:20, which was good for 15th place. Fellow senior Catherine Phillips was the second Canisius runner to cross the line in 20th overall.
Freshman Haley Keene, junior Jamie Wallace and freshman Macey Walker, rounded out the Griffs’ scoring – each of whom placed in the top-51 overall. The Griffs placed sixth for the second year in a row.
“In the women’s race, we have nothing to lose,” Huckle said. “We were 32nd of 36 last year and really they have an opportunity to finish somewhere between 20th and 25th, it really just comes down to how aggressive they are and how excited they are to race.”
Canisius’ men will get underway first, with the race beginning at 11:45 a.m. The women will start shortly after at 1 p.m.