The baton passed to new riders in 2022 after several key departures

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Syracuse begins its season Sept. 3 in the Harry Lang Invitational against Colgate. The Orange enter the year having lost their best runner of 2021 in both men’s and women’s teams.

The men lost Joe Dragon, who finished first at the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational (25:11.8) last year and ranked the team highest in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and to the NCAA Championship. The team’s next two top riders – Aidan Tooker and JP Trojan – also graduated.

Amanda Vestri, the first female runner, also graduated. Vestri dominated finishing first in the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational (20:15.5) and the ACC Championship (20:05).

Both teams will be looking for other riders to place in the upcoming season, such as Matthew Scrape. Scrape finished fastest among returning male runners in the ACC Championship and NCAA Regional, finishing 22nd (24:16.6) and 13th (30:47), respectively. Meanwhile, Savannah Roark finished first in the SU women at the NCAA Championship, placing 161st (20:51.9) as a sophomore.

Here’s a look at some of the major competitions this season and how SU fared last year:

Harry Groves Spikes Invitation

On September 9, the Orange travel to Penn State for the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational. In 2021, SU finished fourth out of six teams, with Amanda Vestri leading the overall standings (20:15.5) in the women’s 6K.

For the men’s 5.2-mile race, the Orange finished second out of six teams behind. Dragon and Nathan Henderson finished first (25:11.8) and second (25:13.5) respectively in the event.

cowboy jamboree

On Sept. 24, Syracuse travels to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on nationally ranked powerhouses like Oklahoma State and Northern Arizona. Both the men’s and women’s teams will race in the 8k, where Syracuse did not compete in 2021.

Nuttycombe Invitation

SU returns to Madison, Wisconsin on October 14 for one of its biggest events of the season – the Nuttycombe Invitational. Last year the men finished 20th out of 31 teams in the 8K Championship with Iowa State leading. Individually, Dragon placed 15th (23:39.6), Aidan Tooker placed 52nd (24:04.5) and Trojan finished third for SU at 87th (24:25.4). They were the only SU riders to finish in the top 100.

In the Women’s 6K Championship, SU finished seventh out of 36 teams. Vestri finished ninth (20:13.3) in the event. Without Vestri this year, SU will be hoping for another quality finish from Roark, who finished 52nd (20:55.7).

ACC Championship

To start the playoffs, Syracuse travels to Virginia for the ACC Championship on Oct. 28. Since joining the conference in 2013, SU has won six ACC men’s cross country titles, finishing second last year. Dragon finished first among SU runners and eighth overall (23:53.0).

On the women’s side, they finished fourth in the 6K as Vestri crossed the finish line in third place (20:12.7). Roark finished third in Orange riders and 23rd overall (20:52).

With a new team in place, both the men’s and women’s teams will face learning curves, competing on the national stage week after week.

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