Ithaca College men's cross country athletes Danny Jagoe and Ben Tiber competed at the NCAA DIII Cross Country Championships on Saturday, November 20 at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky.
Photo via IC Cross Country Head Coach Jim Nichols
Tiber finished 205th overall with a time of 25:33.3, and Jagoe crossed the line just seconds later with a time of 25:36.5 in 208th place in the 8k race.
The two Bombers were part of the group of 69 individual qualifiers in the field of 294 runners.
Jagoe and Tiber departed Ithaca on Wednesday (11/17) and arrived in Louisville later that day.
The two Bombers competitors said settling in early allowed them to rest up and get into the racing mindset.
Photo via Tiber
Jagoe noted Nichols' prioritization of getting out quickly in races throughout the season in preparation for the National Championships.
"We don't want to get boxed-in or stuck in the back early," said Jagoe prior to the race on Friday evening.
Jagoe said he and Tiber caught up with former IC assistant coach John Davis (now at SUNY Brockport) while previewing the course and that Davis cautioned there would be 'imposters' in the race (i.e. athletes who would run well early and fade late).
"We need to make sure we are aware of who [the imposters] are and that we are not one of them," said Jagoe.
"We have always had situational awareness," said Tiber. "We just have to apply it to Nationals now."
Qualifying for the NCAA meet represented the pinnacle of a tough journey in the sport for fifth-year senior Tiber.
He battled through injury and illness in his first few years with the team, all while taking classes in IC's rigorous theatre program.
Tiber said his previous misfortunes in the sport were a big reason why he chose to enroll for a fifth year.
"Cross country in college was not what I had wanted it to be," said Tiber. "I wanted to end my career with a good season."
A third-year student, Jagoe competed at the NCAA championships as a sophomore in 2019, but saw his fortunes take a turn as COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 fall season.
With classes going fully remote for the semester, Jagoe opted to take a gap year.
When campus reopened in the spring, Jagoe continued to train at home while his teammates returned for outdoor track.
Jagoe was frustrated that he was unable to compete but remained motivated with high hopes for the 2021 cross country season.
While training through the spring, Jagoe suffered the worst injury of his running career.
"It was the most time I have taken off for an injury," said Jagoe. "It was definitely a hit to the confidence and I had a lot to overcome."
Despite their previous setbacks, Jagoe and Tiber trained hard through the summer and immediately made an impact upon their arrival in the fall.
The harriers placed top-two on the team in every race they ran from Sep. 4 to Nov. 13.
Tiber's top performance of the season came at the Mike Woods Invitational where he posted a time of 25:21.4 (the 15th fastest 8k time in school history) and a 3rd place finish at the Liberty League Championships earned him All Liberty-League Honors.
Jagoe's top two times came at the regional meet (25:38.4) and the NCAA championships (25:36.5).
He garnered Second-Team Liberty-League status with an 8th place finish at the Liberty League Championships on Oct. 30 in Saratoga Springs.
"Ben and I have been working together all season in every race," said Jagoe. "It's nice to have him with me."
"We were good at racing as a team in the early season," said Tiber. "And at Regionals we stuck together the entire time."
Photo via Jagoe
"Going back to my freshman year, Kentucky has been the place on my mind," said Jagoe. "I'm ecstatic to have the privilege to be here both times."
"Take in every single moment," said Tiber. "It goes by quick, so don't waste your time worrying."