Underclassmen Erb, Nerud quickly becoming top finishers for Orange

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 11, 2013 at 9:55 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman For those who are only vaguely familiar with the cross-country program, only the names Martin Hehir and Margo Malone may ring a bell. But Martin and Malone have undoubtedly been the top runners for the men and women, respectively, throughout the Orange’s prosperous 2013 campaign.Shortly after that top spot, though, will always be the names MJ Erb and Brianna Nerud. The redshirt freshman Erb, for the men, and the sophomore Nerud, for the women, have been unsung talents in the Orange’s rotation.The lanky, soft-spoken Erb, who was Syracuse’s top performer at the Dartmouth Invitational earlier this year, was also the top freshman finisher at the Atlantic Coast Conference championships. His 21st-place finish earned him the final spot on the All-ACC team.“I definitely think it shows that if you’re patient, good things will come,” Erb said regarding his racing strategy. “Every day in practice, running with some of the older guys makes it the same when we go into races. Just follow them.”Syracuse assistant coach Adam Smith pointed out that Erb’s high school times weren’t anything jaw-dropping, but the summer training he put in with members of the team in Flagstaff, Ariz., has helped him adapt rather well to the college circuit.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAlthough Erb may come across as reserved to those who don’t know him, Smith described him as quite the opposite.“Well, he’s a goofball,” Smith added with a grin.Make that a goofball who loves gummies, which is Erb’s snack of choice before every race. Clearly, the gummies and sense of humor are working for the redshirt freshman that Smith repeatedly described as one word: talented.As for Nerud, she’s become a force for Syracuse despite her undersized stature and giddy personality. She can easily come across as harmless, but she is anything but that on the course.“She’s definitely the best closer in the conference,” Smith said. “She probably picked off more people in the last mile than anybody,” referring to her finish at the ACC championships.Although just a sophomore, Nerud hardly lacks experience on the big stage. Smith noted that she’s competed not only on the national level, but also on the world level, fittingly preparing her for life in the ACC.At the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona in 2012, Nerud set the national high school and American junior (under 20) record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.Nerud’s best finishes came in the season’s first two meets, where she finished third and eighth overall, respectively. Her 23rd place finish at the ACC championships left her two spots short of the All-ACC team, but she was still pleased with her product.“I think I’ve definitely been going upward as the season has gone on, which is good because these are the meets that are important for the team,” Nerud said.The next test for Nerud, Erb and the Orange will be the Northeast Regional Championships in the Bronx, N.Y., this Friday. Once again, Nerud and Erb will try to end up at the top right along with the likes of Hehir and Malone.“It’s nice to have those guys be up front for us as younger guys,” Smith said. “They’re really good guys, and it’s nice to count on some younger guys in some big time races like this.” Commentslast_img

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