Syracuse heads into ACC championships with rest, refined team tactics

first_img Published on October 30, 2014 at 12:05 am Contact Sam: [email protected] | @Sam4TR Facebook Twitter Google+ The best feeling from Syracuse’s winning performance at the Wisconsin Meet of Champions on Oct. 17 was knowing it came without the Orange runners running their hardest.SU dominated the meet, scoring nearly twice as well as the second-place Iona team.“We knew we needed to have a solid day,” said Martin Hehir, a redshirt junior and SU’s top finisher in Wisconsin. “But it takes a lot of pressure off knowing we’re not going all-out.”The team didn’t particularly strain itself because, in the grander scheme of the season, there were more important races approaching. Conserving energy, training for the postseason and learning from past meets are at the forefront of their minds as they look ahead to the Atlantic Coast Conference championships. The conference meet is set for Friday in Charlottesville, Virginia with a 10 a.m. start for the women and 10:45 a.m. start for the men.This year’s race is hosted by the University of Virginia at Panorama Farms, an 8K course featuring a 1000-meter stretch of uphill running. No one on the SU team has raced on the course before, but the feelings of unfamiliarity should be eased by the fact that the team will arrive early and have the opportunity to run the course twice before the ACC official meet.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe plan to conquer the course continues with training. The Orange regularly runs up Sweet Road in Pompey, New York to prepare. The 6.5-mile stretch is a gradual, uphill climb that challenges even the top SU runners. “It’s one of our toughest workout venues,” said redshirt senior Reed Kamyszek. “It prepares you to push yourself when you’re exhausted in a race.”SU men’s cross-country has won four of its last five conference titles, dating back to the team’s time in the Big East. The Orange is competing in its second-ever ACC tournament after winning last year.Head coach Chris Fox said resting his top seven players prior to the conference championships is standard operating procedure.To save the best for the more important races, SU rested its best last Friday in the John Reif Memorial in Ithaca, New York. None of its top seven runners, like Hehir, Kamyszek or freshman Justyn Knight, participated as they rested up for the postseason.In Charlottesville, the men will repeat their tactics from throughout the year. They will stick in a pack for the first 5K because, Fox said, there’s strength in numbers and the runners gain confidence when they see their teammates. After the 5K mark, runners will break out if they can, Fox said. Otherwise, the runners hang with the pack and try to grit out the strength to keep running by gaining confidence from their surrounding teammates.“When I look around and I’m surrounded by my whole team, it’s a great feeling,” Hehir said. “It helps me push through because I know we’re doing this together.”Communication is another added benefit to the pack method. Runners say they can discuss strategy in-race on whether to keep their pace, go up-tempo or slow down to conserve strength.They’ve refined these maneuvers at their first-team races throughout the season. In Boston for SU’s Sept. 26 meet, Hehir remembers starting slow before the race came down to a big kick in the last mile. Hehir said that could’ve been avoided by a stronger start. “We need to establish a good pace,” he said. “We don’t want it coming down to the final push.”To succeed at the ACC championships, the Orange needs a strong race from Kamyszek, who struggled in Wisconsin, and redshirt sophomore Joel Hubbard. If they move up in the pack, Fox said, they can swing the meet for SU. Neither has run a competitive race in two weeks.Like the rest of the top Orange runners, Kamyszek and Hubbard are winding down their training, running shorter and shorter practices. Then they’ll eat steak or pasta together and prepare for the biggest race of their season thus far.“They want to win,” Fox said. “And they hold each other accountable.” Commentslast_img

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