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Syracuse cross country will compete for the Atlantic Coast Conference title at Notre Dame on Friday. The Orange have won six ACC men’s cross country titles since joining the conference in 2013, including five straight from 2013-17.
Entering the race, the women’s team is ranked No. 16 in the nation — its highest ranking in the past two seasons. The team went from being unranked to being in the top 10 after a seventh-place finish at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 15. The Orange are one one of five nationally ranked teams in the ACC, including No. 2 NC State, No. 10 Florida State, No. 13 North Carolina and No. 21 Notre Dame.
Sophomore Savannah Roark, who finished second for Syracuse and 52nd overall at the Nuttycombe Invitational, said she expects a top-four team finish at ACCs.
“Individually, Amanda (Vestri) will be up there in the top five and hopefully we have three or so girls medaling behind her,” Roark said.
The top 21 men’s and women’s finishers at the ACC Championships will earn medals and All-ACC honors. Roark said she plans to continue her pack strategy — a tactic where she runs alongside her teammates to keep pace.
“Abigail Spiers, Holly Bent and I all race as a pack, so I think we are just looking to be a little closer together,” Roark said. “If we can be even closer than we were in the last race, that would be great.”
Roark and Bent finished just one second apart at the Nuttycombe Invitational, while Annie Boos and Spiers crossed two seconds apart about 15 seconds later.
No. 2 NC State will be competing for its sixth consecutive women’s ACC Championship title this Friday. The Wolfpack’s women’s cross country team has 26 ACC titles, the most by any women’s sport in the ACC.
Syracuse’s men’s team will compete against only two ranked teams: No. 8 Notre Dame and No. 19 Florida State. The team was ranked No. 27 going into week four of the season, but it fell out of the rankings after a 20th-place finish at the Nuttycombe Invitational.
“We know we are a really good team,” Aidan Tooker said. “We are a way better team than we have even shown this year, so I’m just excited to go chase Notre Dame.”
The reigning ACC champion, Notre Dame, is the “overwhelming” favorite to win this year’s race, Syracuse head coach Brien Bell said. The ACC Championships race is an 8k race as opposed to the 6k race the team runs during the regular season, so Tooker said he is looking to take advantage of that extra space.
“We are just going to run the last 2k as hard as we possibly can and see how many guys we can beat,” Tooker said.