This year, the St. Bonaventure men's and women's cross country teams have made significant improvement as a team and in individual performances.
These performances all contribute to when getting a personal best matters most, at the Atlantic 10 Championships. The conference championship meet will take place this Saturday, Nov. 2 at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
At the Anderson Invitational on Sept. 21, SBU's men placed third out of 21 teams and eight of their runners set personal best on the season. That was part of a strong campaign that has seen the Bonnies men's runners set six out of the program's all-time top-15 individual 8K times.
Senior William Delaney set the program record with a run of 25:36.6, shattering the old record by over 40 seconds. Junior Nathan Prisella posted the second-fastest time at 25:34.7. Those two runners also own the top two 5K times in Bonnies history. Freshmen Hayden Barry and Darion Gregory rank fourth and ninth respectively in the 8K books while Ryan Chmiel and Jack Boltman ran top-15 times earlier this year as well.
Most recently, the Bonnies finished eighth out of 36 teams at the Jenna Strong Invitational on Oct. 11.
On the women's side, the Bonnies have placed top six in each of their last three meets. This includes a fourth place finish at the Stampede Invitational on Sept. 13, a third place finish at the Anderson Invitational and a sixth place finish at the Louisville Cross Country Classic.
Senior Sydney Beeman has been at the front of the pack for the Bona runners this season – her effort of 23:33 earlier this season stands sixth in program 6K history. Samantha Henry, Emma Larkman, Lindsey Clawson, Amberlee Robertson and Stephanie Barry have been among the team's top runners this year as well.
MacFarlane has been pleased with the performances by his teams.
"I've been very happy with what everybody's been doing. Our goal is to progressively get better as the season continues and try to get a personal best near the end of the season and it has now come to fruition because the kids are following the plan like they have," he said.
Seniors Delaney and Beeman have both boasted impressive careers during their time at SBU. In their final year, MacFarlane said they have done what's expected from them.
"Seniors should always be the inspiration and go to people on your team and they both have been doing this and fulfilling their potential with their times in the record book," he said.
The other veterans like Prisella and Henry have also surpassed MacFarlane's expectations.
"Nate has made the next step up this year. He's more focused on his training and understanding what he needs to do to become a better runner," he said.
"Sam has also had her best year. She has stepped forward being a leader, competing and actually wanting to do better, I can see it in her stand," he added.
While veteran experience has helped the Bonnies, there is also a lot of young talent showing good potential.
Both the men's and women's teams are comprised of 11 underclassmen making up about half of the team.
MacFarlane said the freshmen usually have difficulty adjusting, but that has not been the case this year.
"Normally freshmen come in and it's tough to get adjusted to the style of coaching and style of running and so forth but they've handled themselves very well."
As the Bonnies prepare for the Atlantic 10 Championships, MacFarlane said this year's course is one of the toughest he's seen in his 30 years of coaching. Despite that, MacFarlane believes the young talent can help the veterans in moving both sides out of the bottom half of the conference.
"We're a very young team so I just want them to go in there and run their best and not be afraid of the competition because they branded some very big performances this year and they were at some very big meets," MacFarlane said.
After conference championships, the final event of the fall comes at Northeast Regionals in Buffalo Nov. 15.
For the latest news on St. Bonaventure athletics, stay connected on social media. Follow the Bonnies on Twitter @GoBonnies and get cross country and track updates @BonniesXCTrack. Keep up with the Bonnies on Facebook /GoBonnies and on Instagram @GoBonnies.