Syracuse Men, Virginia Women Claim ACC Cross Country Titles

Virginia Tech’s Thomas Curtin and Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel are individual champs.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Virginia Tech’s Thomas Curtin and Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel claimed Atlantic Coast Conference Cross Country Championship individual titles Friday at Apalachee Regional Park, while the Syracuse men and Virginia women were crowned team champions.

First-time champions as seniors, Curtin and Seidel took different paths to titles.

Running with a fast and large lead pack much of the way, Curtin outkicked Syracuse sophomore Justyn Knight over the final 200 meters, winning in an 8,000-meter course record time of 23:23.0. Knight was close behind in 23:24.4, followed by Louisville’s Edwin Kibichiy (23:30.6).

“We knew the race could go one of two ways,” said Curtin, who was the runner-up in 2013. “We were hoping it would go out a little bit slow actually, but it started fast with the downhill start, so since it wasn’t slow, that went out the window. Then it was just stick with the lead pack and do what I can and hope our team does well.”

Seidel took command of the women’s 6,000-meter race early on, pulling away to win in a course record time of 19:36.2; a full 32 seconds in front of freshman teammate and runner-up Anna Rohrer (20:08.3).

“The course was fantastic,” said Seidel. “It was a perfect day for it - nice and warm - and just to get out there, it’s always fun to have great competition. We went out fast and ju kept going.”

Knight’s runner-up finish paced the second-ranked Orange to their third consecutive team title, as Syracuse claimed three of the top five spots for a comfortable 46-95 advantage over men’s runner-up NC State. Colin Bennie and defending champion Martin Hehir finished third and fourth for the Orange, who also had two more finishers in the top 20.

“We’re not going to look past the regional meet, but we’re looking at nationals,” Syracuse coach Chris Fox said. “We like where we’re at right now. We’ve got a few things to tidy up at the back end, but we’re pleased.”

George Parsons and Meron Simon placed seventh and ninth to pace the 12th-ranked Wolfpack. Seventh-ranked Virginia (115) received top-10 finishes from Chase Weaverling (eighth) and Henry Wynne (10th) to place third. Eighteenth-ranked No. 18 Virginia Tech (120) and Louisville (130) rounded out the top five teams.

Duke senior Shaun Thompson placed sixth to account for the final men’s top 10 spot.

In a race with momentum swings from both sides, the seventh-ranked Virginia women prevailed over eight-ranked NC State, 71-75 for the Cavaliers’ first team title since 1982. Their four-point margin of victory is the second narrowest in the 38-year championship history.

Virginia was led by Cleo Boyd (foruth), Iona Lake (11th) and Emily Mulhern (15th), while Ryen Frazier (fifth), Rachel Koon (seventh) and Kaitlyn Kramer (18th) paced NC State. The Cavaliers and Wolfpack were tied at 30-30 through their first three finishers, but Virginia’s Sarah Astin and Megan Rebholz finished 19th and 22nd for the final margin of victory.

“We kind of knew going in that it was going to be a war with NC State, and they came out swinging and I’m really happy with how the group battled back in the second half,” said Virginia women’s coach Todd Morgan. “It was a phenomenal battle with both teams in a great conference.”

Notre Dame, ranked 17th nationally, put all five of its scorers in the top 25 to finish third with 96 points. The Irish were followed by No. 16 Syracuse (141) and No. 29 North Carolina (150).

Syracuse senior Margo Malone placed third (20:17.7) and Wake Forest senior Samantha Jones was sixth (20:22.5) on a day when five of the top nine women’s spots went to freshmen. Rohrer, Frazier and Koon were followed by Boston College’s Isabelle Kennedy (eighth) and Florida State’s Carmela Cardama Baez (ninth). Clemson junior Grace Barnett rounded out the top 10.