The Army West Point Cross Country team is set to open competition this weekend when it hosts Syracuse in Montgomery, N.Y. on Saturday morning. The event marks the first collegiate cross country meet in the Northeast in 2020 and Army's first non-football sporting event of the academic year. Athletes from both sides have complied with their institutions' and conferences' respective COVID-19 testing guidelines ahead of the competition. The meet will be closed to outside spectators. “We are very excited about the opportunity to compete,”
Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Mike Smith said. “This group last competed back in March and they all trained well during the quarantine, but they are ready to get back out there. This will be a great chance to put that training to the test against a very strong Syracuse program.” The Black Knights enter the 2020 season after a strong run of success over the past several seasons. On the men's side, Army has claimed three consecutive Patriot League Championships. After graduating one of the most accomplished senior classes in program history, the Black Knights welcome back several key contributors to this year's squad. The group is headlined by the past three recipients of the Patriot League Rookie of the Meet honor in firstie Daniel Mazzei, cow Marshall Beatty and yearling Garrett Gough. Gough was one of four cadets to finish in the top ten at the league meet in 2019 when he placed ninth. Army will be captained by firstie Luca Mazzanti who is coming off a strong track & field campaign earlier this year. On the women's side, Army returns its top two finishers from last year's Patriot League Championships in senior captain Mika Andrews and sophomore Alexandra Gibbs.
Andrews was Army's most consistent performer a season ago, claiming Second Team All-Patriot League honors at the league meet and leading Army with a third place finish at the Army-Navy Star Meet. Gibbs opened her Army career with back-to-back victories at the Army-Maine Dual and the Army Open. The Orange enter the 2020 season with both teams ranked in the top five in the ACC Preseason Poll, as the men are ranked second and the women's team is ranked fourth. The Syracuse men have claimed the conference title in six of the past seven seasons and reached the NCAA Championship in 2019 after placing second at the NCAA Northeast Regional. The team returns five All-ACC performers on the men's side and three on the women's side. This marks the first time that Army will host Syracuse since 1996 when the Black Knights defeated the Orange 20-76.