Monica Dore, News Editor
SUNY Oneonta Women’s Cross Country team had a lot of momentum going into this year’s season. Coming off of the most impressive season in school history for both the men’s and women’s teams, the women’s squad is working as hard as ever and hoping to get another shot at the NCAA Division III National Championships.
Last year, Oneonta State’s women’s team competed at the National Championships in Hanover, Indiana for the first time in school history. The team finished 25th in the nation and also brought home its first All-American runner, Danielle Kennedy. Kennedy has graduated, but six of the top seven who ran at the National Championships remain. The girls began their season on August 30, finishing in second place at the SUNYIT Wildcat invitational in Utica. From there, the team earned first-place finishes at both the Oneonta Invitational and the Rochester Yellowjacket Invitational at Genesee Valley Park.
The Rochester Yellowjacket Invitational was especially important in securing Oneonta’s position for the season because Oneonta, who went into the race ranked 14th nationally, beat Geneseo, ranked seventh in the nation, by seven points.
After an impressive start to the season, the women’s team is looking forward to a future just as bright. In a season preview, Head Coach Angelo Posillico said that he believes the depth of the current roster is what makes it better – at least on paper – than last year’s team. Posillico has high expectations for the girls, individually and as a team. Posillico believes Junior Alyssa Drapeau is a good candidate for an All-American title given her improvements from last season. Seniors Marielle Genovesi and Jaclyn Masucci, along with sophomores Mary Kate Bida, Elizabeth Chichester and Samantha Wilks are also expected to add to the success of the season and make a trip to Wilmington, Ohio for this year’s National Championship.
Genovesi, who has been on the team since her freshman year and earned All-Region honors last season, said “There is even more pressure this season to be the best in SUNYAC. We don’t expect it to be handed to us, so we’ve kicked up the training and have definitely been working harder with the expectation of going back to the championships.”
For any team, pressure can be either an effective motivator or a harmful force. But so far this season, the women’s cross-country team seems to be handling the pressure well – the women are currently ranked 13th in the division three. With under two months until the National Championships, they will need to remain strong in order to maintain their place. But the future looks promising for this season because the team is highly focused, hardworking and has a great overall dynamic.
After the victory at the Rochester Invitational, Posillico spoke highly of his team, saying, “We have some really strong leadership on this team right now and it’s a really fun group of 26 women to coach. Everyone is motivated and supportive; it’s an environment I don’t think a lot of other teams have and it’s going to help us continue to improve over the next two months.”
The women’s team has three events coming up before the SUNYAC Championships at Brockport on November 1 and the Regional Championships on November 15, where the team can qualify for Nationals. This weekend, the girls will be going head-to-head with seventh ranked Geneseo at Letchworth State Park.