By Dominic Chamberlain
It’s that time of the year again where the Griffs’ cross country team is preparing for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships, and this year the Griffs will compete for that championship in Disney.
But before the Griffs can worry about the big race, they had to take care of business in their final race before MAACs, the Canisius Alumni Classic, which was held at Delaware Park.
The men’s team won the 8K race with 30 points, featuring a strong performance by senior Brennan Root. Root finished the race with a time of 25:02.9 which was good enough for third place amongst the Division I racers. Following Root was senior Galen Snyder at 25:40.9 and Xavier Sauvageau with a time of 25:56.0. The men’s team had no problem taking the event, as they had no runner who scored points finish outside the top ten.
The Griffs outscored the next closest team, the St. Francis Red Flash, by 33 points. For Root, the race was business as usual. “I think it was definitely a solid effort,” said Root. “I got out hard just like I wanted. I maintained my position. There was a small group of guys up front that got away from me that I’m a little unhappy about, but all in all I’d say it was a pretty good showing.”
The women’s team also performed well at the meet, finishing second overall. Siobhan Quinn finished first in the 5k race with a time of 17:54.6. Carlin Sullivan also ran a solid race, finishing in third amongst Division I runners with a time of 18:34.9.
“We had a lot of people perform very well,” said head coach Nate Huckle. “Some people performed up to the level or better than they did at the Paul Short Invitational two weeks prior, so it shows that we’re rounding into shape really well.”
This is a very good place for the Griffs to be as they prepare to head down to “the Happiest Place on Earth” for the MAAC championships. At this point, the Griffs can use their experience from the past races this season, as well as from this last week, to prepare for the big event.
One unique factor the team will be dealing with is the weather. As of the writing of this article, the forecast for the race, which will be held on Saturday Oct. 9, is a high 83 degrees and sunny. The weather forecast in Buffalo is expected to reach a 48-degree high at one point this week. It’ll be a bit different for the Griffs, to say the least.
Another interesting factor will be the preparation the Griffs will do for the Championships. Root says he knows what he has to do over this week to be successful come the race in Disney.
“The week before a competition is all about maintaining,” said Root. “We’ve done rigorous and very, very challenging training back in August and that was our main focus. Just building up that strength and that aerobic energy, and just sort of mellowing out these last couple of weeks and keeping everything healthy.”
Keeping everything healthy will be the main key. Huckle did mention that some players were nursing nagging injuries that could play a factor come Disney, especially because Huckle has big expectations or the team.
“Some people ran really well at Paul Short and a couple people ran really well at the Canisius Classic,” said Huckle. “If we can combine those two efforts on the same day, we should be in a position to place very well at MAACs. I think the guys will be right up there in the hunt for second place, and the women should be able to move up a couple of places from their sixth place finish last year. I think both teams are looking really good.”
Second place for the men really wouldn’t be a terrible result. The Iona Gales are favored to win the Championship again. The real race, once again, appears it will be for second place on the men’s side. But Root feels the team is very strong and can run well at Disney.
“We’ve got a strong band of guys,” said Root. “The team chemistry is very very high and we’ve had a lot of young guys come in and right off the bat they were ready to learn. The team just supports each other; when we do workouts, we’re together, and even in a race, it’s just like instinct; when one guy moves, another one follows. I think if we all stay focused this upcoming MAAC race, we can really do some damage.”
The team will have to overcome a lot in Disney: the weather, injuries, and the distractions of being in Disney, but if all goes according to plan, the Griffs could prove to be one of the best teams in the MAAC.