"The Boys from Syracuse" are back starring on Broadway, (Our NCAA Regional Wrap Up) by Elliot Denman

Elliott Denman wrote this wrap up on the Division 1 Regionals that happened this past weekend across the U.S. 

Boston Mayor's Cup, photo by PhotoRun.net

   Don't look now, but "The Boys From Syracuse" are back.

  And, unlike their predecessors,  they intend to stay there.

    Three quarters of a century ago, "The Boys From Syracuse" - i.e., the musical by Rodgers and Hart, based on Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors," starring Eddie Albert and Ronald Graham - first wowed 'em on Broadway.

   That initial run lasted 235 performances - about 10 months - but the new one seems destined to run a whole lot further.

   Fact is, this one's already been on top five times in the past six years.
    This one is produced and directed by Coach Chris Fox, features a star runner named Martin Hehir and has made its mark on a section of Broadway at least 200 blocks north of the old one's base of operations.

   Once again,  Chris Fox's Syracuse runners trotted off with top honors in the NCAA's Men's Northeast Regional, Friday at Van Cortlandt Park, and are headed for the Nov. 22 NCAA finals in Terre Haute, Indiana, full of great reviews and major-league optimism.

  In a tight three-way team finish, the nationally third-ranked Syracuse men again prevailed in the NCAA Northeast Regional, this time netting 45 points to nose out 19th-ranked and surprising Providence, which claimed the second automatic qualifying spot at 48 points, with fifth-ranked Iona third at 60, but still a certainty to be awarded an at-large berth in the

  "We did exactly how we planned it," said Fox.  "We didn't really go it into knowing we had to win (to qualify) so that took the pressure off.  We just ran together and ran as easy as we could to get ready for next week.

   "We didn't run our (regularly) second and third men (Justyn Knight and Max Straneva), either, today, trying to rest them.

  "Nationals? Colorado, for sure, is the heavy favorite, and probably Oregon's the number two. Our team, I think we can finish anywhere from third to seventh."

  Some more history - last time and only time "The Boys From Syracuse" won at NCAA XC Nationals was 1951, and the coach was Bob Grieve (who'd once been a star sprinter at Illinois, chasing Jesse Owens to Big 10 championships.)

   The most recent Eastern men's team to win NCAA's was Villanova in 1970.  Best of more recent days was the pair of second-place finishes by Iona in 2007-08.

  This time, Iona's Jake Byrne took the individual title over the flat, 10K course (which steered away from Van Cortlandt's famed Cemetery Hill and back hills) in 30:26.12, holding off Providence's Benjamin Connor (30:29.12) and Yale's Kevin Dooney (30:30.12.)

 Byrne and Dooley hail from Ireland, Connor from England.

   Army's Trevor LaFontaine unwisely took out the early pace before fading to 42nd place.

  "That's (breaking away from the pack) always tough to do, and specially on a windy day like today," said Byrne. "It certainly cost him (LaFontaine.)  I just tucked in with the pack, and broke away with about one K to go.

   "This is all about team running, anyway. Syracuse and Providence ran great, but I think we'll still place high at Nationals.   There are always so many variables.  Anything can happen out there. If you don't think you can (place high), you have no business going out there.

   "I was 71st myself out there last year. I know I can do a lot better this time."

    The Syracuse deluge started with ACC champion Martin Hehir in sixth, and Joel Hubbard, Dan Lennon, MJ Erb and Colin Bennie wrapped it up for the Orangemen in the 7-8-9-15 spots.

  But the day was already a success for Iona by the time the men's race started.

  The Gaels' Kate Avery (19:49.5) and Rosie Clarke (20:12.84) - a regal, resounding pair of Englishwomen - registered a 1-2 slam in the women's 6K and teamed with Tara Jameson (sixth), Regina Neumeyer (28th) and Marlene Delices (54th) to net 91 team points and hold off second-place (and reigning NCAA titlist) Providence (128), third-place Dartmouth (136) and the rest of the pack.

   "Kate was really strong today," said Iona coach Ricardo Santos, and that was putting it mildly.

   Avery, the fourth-place finisher in last August's Commonwealth Games 10,000 meters in Scotland, and third-placer in the 2013 NCAA XC finals, is obviously primed for a huge performance in Terre Haute.

  "She took the race under control heading into that last (3K) loop," said Santos. " She's in very good shape and ready to go.

   "At Nationals, if all goes well, she'll be right up there, but let's just wait and see.

  "Now, we just have to make sure we recover the next few days and be ready for next Saturday."

   But, nationally speaking,  it's a whole different story on the women's Eastern side.  Amazingly, Eastern teams have won four of the last five NCAA team championships.

     Providence heads to Terre Haute following its resounding 2013 team triumph (141 to 197 over Arizona), whileGeorgetown led the way in 2011 and Villanova in 2009-10.

 Meanwhile,  in results from the eight other  Regionals  around the nation:
(1) Villanova (41) outclassed Georgetown (74) with host Penn State nosing out Princteton (87-88) for third in the Mid-Atlantic men's race. Penn State's Matt Fischer (30:16) took the individual gold over Villanova's Patrick Tiernan and Penn's Thomas Awad.

The tight women's race saw Georgetown edge West Virginia, 38-42, with Princeton (125) and Villanova (128) next in line. The Hoyas' Katrina Coogan continues looking like a top national contender after her decisive 20:06 win over West Virginia's Jillian Forsey and Katie Gillespie.

(2) Host Wisconsin (61), Michigan State (82) and Michigan (94) men ran 1-2-3 in the Great Lakes Regional at Madison.  John Mascari - can he be Indiana State's best athlete since Larry Bird? - won the race in 30:07 over Wisconsin's Malachy Schrobilgen.

It was Michigan State over Wisconsin, 28-82 for the women's crown as Leah O'Connor and Rachelle Schulist (both 19:45) of the Spartans ran to a virtual dead heat for the gold.

 (3) Meanwhile, it was Oklahoma State (63) outrunning Tulsa (77) and Iowa State (110) in the men's Midwest Regional hosted by Bradley, and OSU's Krubel Erassa (30:09.5) claiming the gold.  

But Iowa State won the women's title over Minnesota, 66-125, with Courtney
Frerichs of Missouri-Kansas City ahead of the field in 19:55.6.

(4) Rising power Mississippi (52) stunned Florida State (94) and Auburn (106) in the South Regional men's event at Tallahassee.  Auburn's Ty McCormack (30:08.30) and Florida's Tyler Udland, the grad student out of Princeton (30:17.20), went 1-2.

The women's race was closest in the nation all day - Vanderbilt over Florida State, 52-53, and Alabama third at 135.  Florida's Colleen Quigley won it in 19:17.

(5) Elon's Luis Vargas (30:05.8) struck the individual gold in the men's Southeast Regional at Louisville, but it was Virginia (75), Furman (79) and North Carolina (87) 1-2-3 in the team race.

UNC's Annie LeHardy won the women's individual gold in 20:13.4 and team honors went to William and Mary (74) over Virginia (82) and UNC (94.)

(6) Host Arkansas (41), led by gold medalist Stanley Kembenei (who ran a
course-record 29:08.01)  fought off Texas (51) with Lamar (106) third in the South Central men's Regional at Fayetteville. 

And the Razorbacks made it a Daily Double by beating Baylor, 29-82, for the women's team crown, with SMU (113) third. Arkansas' Dominique Scott breezed home in 19:43.8.

  (7) Just as expected,  Mountain Regional men's team honors at Albuquerque went to number one-ranked and defending national king Colorado, which put five men in the top 13 for a 45 total, easily holding off 2013 NCAA runner-up and still tough Northern Arizona (68) and Brigham Young (121.)  UTEP's Anthony Rotich led the field in 29:39.

  And it was Colorado, too, in the women's race, 43-58, over the host UNM Lobos, with BYU (112) third.  New Mexico freshman Alice Wright led the way in 20:15.10, and runner-up Erin Clark started the Colorado title drive.

(8) Oregon's Edward Cheserek, the reigning NCAA men's titlist, coasted through to a second-place finish and Northeastern U. transfer Eric Jenkins snared third as their second-ranked Oregon Ducks won the West Regional men's title on a 60-point score, over in-state rival Portland's 71.  Stanford was a gracious host at Palo Alto and provided the individual winner in grad student Maksim Korolev, by way of Harvard, who ran 29:33.5.

  Oregon's women won, too, netting 88 points, while Boise State and Stanford (both 103) locked for second.   Arizona State's Shelby Houlihan ran to the gold in 19:31.6.

  The Bottom Line: On to Terre Haute.

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