Chris Fox has a plan for the injured runners rehabbing after last season’s breakout year.This season, the Syracuse head coach said he will hold out his top seven runners in hopes of shaking the rust off Forrest Misenti and Griff Graves, who both missed time during their Syracuse careers.Fox said he plans on introducing those two injured runners in “low-key” races to get them ready for the bigger ones that will come later this season.“It’s almost like a scrimmage for football,” Fox said.Graves hasn’t competed since 2009, and Misenti has not raced since February 2011. They both had seasons cut short by injuries, and they both returned in the first race of the season at Colgate.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGraves was the top SU finisher and placed second overall with a time of 20:06 in the 6,400-meter race, and Misenti placed fifth with a time of 20:17.Graves was pleased but humble about his performance.“Anytime you can come back into your first race and compete on the level you want to compete, it’s always good,” he said.Misenti was more impressed.“Seeing him finish second place and go after the win the last half mile was really impressive,” Misenti said.On Sept. 8 at the Dartmouth Invitational, the No. 12 men’s team snagged another first-place finish. The Orange dominated the race with eight runners finishing in the Top 10.Working Misenti and Graves back into running shape comes at a price, though. As the two mount their respective returns, few true freshmen have participated in the Harry Lang Invitational or Dartmouth Invitational.Instead, many runners have been left back to practice at Manley Field House. Fox said acclimating his youngest runners to college races before they compete is crucial early in the season.Brianna Nerud is transitioning from high school to college meets this season. The freshman enjoyed a record-setting career at North Shore High School (N.Y.), but was held out of both meets thus far.Running at Syracuse is a different — and much higher — level of competition. And Nerud said it requires a higher level of preparation.“Training with a big team is different,” Nerud said. “The workouts are harder because of higher intensity some days, and longer.”To ease that acclimation period, Fox has often redshirted first-year runners. He held out nine freshmen from competition in 2011, and he said he plans on repeating that strategy this year.Fox said that habit squeezes the most eligibility out of his runners, too.“If you run them, you can’t redshirt them,” Fox said.It also opens up spots for Fox to integrate his top performers, like Misenti and Graves, back into the lineup.Senior Sarah Pagano ran at Dartmouth after Fox held her out of the Harry Lang Invitational. She was the top finisher for SU and finished seventh with a time of 21:38.70.Though the Orange has not run all its top runners, the team has been successful through two meets. Fox can slowly bring runners back from injury now before the bigger meets down the road.“The real test will be over the next few weeks,” Graves said. “We’ll see how we stack up as the competition gets better.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 13, 2012 at 1:53 am Contact Melissa: [email protected]
The same narrative seems to accompany all of Michael “Venom” Page’s bouts during fight week — that said opponent will be a real test for him due to perhaps owning superior MMA skills over the undefeated phenom.Yet, the same results follow each time, as MVP goes out and passes those tests in spectacular fashion, injecting windows of dancing and other entertaining antics to supplement his chilling skills. MORE: Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearEven if MVP pulls off a convincing win against Daley and runs the table over the remainder of the Bellator welterweight World Grand Prix, he isn’t sure if that will finally silence detractors from saying his style overshadows his skills. But whether they come around or not, MVP is going to keep doing things his way.“I just have to be true to myself,” he says. “My style is me and it will always be me.” Substance over style is frequently evoked when people pick MVP’s opponents to beat him, as they put more stock in Page’s antics and dancing than his skills. As shortsighted and foolish as such criticism is, it’s an enough of a trigger point for Page to spew some “Venom.”“As annoying as it is for me to even say this and believe this, I genuinely feel that people are going to appreciate my skill when I’m no longer in the sport,” Page tells Sporting News, while leaning back in his chair at DAZN’s Lower Manhattan office on Tuesday. “They’re gonna be like, ‘Wow, he was off the chain’ when I’m no longer there to criticize. I genuinely feel it’s purely because they just don’t want to believe in the style because it’s so different, it’s so unusual. It’s like, ‘you’re supposed to do it this way’ and ‘what he’s doing doesn’t make sense.’”It might not make sense to some MMA purists, but MVP’s unorthodox style is wildly effective, as he’s able to regularly buy enough cage real estate to shimmy and shake, lulling opponents into a trance, before cleanly striking with everything from calculated fists to elbows and flying knees. Page wants his naysayers to understand that there’s a timed method to his madness when it comes to pulling off his hijinks, which he freestyles purely based on feeling.“The decoration that I add on is the dance moves and that’s a feeling when I know that I’m safe, when I feel like I got that person’s timing. But until that point, I’m very traditional in terms of my sport. I’m very basic,” Page says. “You don’t see anything come out as soon as the bell goes. I’m not doing the Running Man right away. When you start seeing all that stuff, please understand that I’ve won that fight already because I’m comfortable enough to then start doing that.”He adds: “It just means I’m good at my job because I’m able to create these pockets where I’m allowed to have these antics.”Page’s unpredictable style often leaves foes stuck on a forked road, with two different types of poison to choose from.“I’m able to frustrate people into standing still and while you’re standing still, I could do whatever the hell I want because you’re not attacking,” he says. “Or I’m able to frustrate people so much that they end up rushing into things and I end up pulling off these spectacular knees.”Entering this grudge match, Daley vows not to fall victim to Page’s wizardry, even saying that if MVP feels like dancing that he’ll sit back and let him dance, remaining patient and unbothered. Daley has also evoked the substance-over-style argument as a bullet point for why he’ll pummel MVP, even coming up with the analogy that Page is former boxer “Prince” Naseem Hamed in this fight and he’s Marco Antonio Barrera. The hardened warrior Barrera notoriously beat down on the flashier Hamed, handing the showman the first loss of his career back in an April 2001 unanimous decision.Page, unsurprisingly, doesn’t see that at all, laughing off Daley’s comparison as a method to psych himself up. However, the 31-year-old, who has fought in two professional boxing bouts, does liken himself to a different Sweet Science legend — none other than Floyd Mayweather Jr.On one hand, Page sees common ground with Mayweather in the way people try to undermine his greatness. In MVP’s case, it’s that his flashy fighting style won’t stand the test of time, even though he remains undefeated. A knock on Mayweather was always that he’d fight opponents when they were past his prime. Yet, he beat them all.“There’s always an excuse,” Page says.The other commonality is in the arena of combat itself, where Mayweather in the ring and Page in the confines of the cage are able to seemingly broker and buy space to create offense at will. Sharing those doctorates in space management is combat mastery that MVP doesn’t think people truly grasp. When Sporting News asked Page what impressed him about the retired, undefeated boxing legend the most, MVP showed he’s a student of the fight game by conjuring up a distinct memory of Mayweather back when he was still “Pretty Boy” Floyd.It was January 2005 and Mayweather was in the middle of fighting Henry Bruseles when he managed to overhear HBO commentator Jim Lampley ask his colleague, Roy Jones Jr., if he’s going with the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC title game. For a second, Mayweather took his eyes off Bruseles, barked down at the announcers’ table “the Patriots,” before casually peppering his opponent with a stiff left jab.The moment still resonates with MVP to this day.“It’s being present in the fight, but also able to take in what’s going on around you,” he says about Mayweather’s ability and his own penchant for being able to pull off the same in the cage. “Just the fact that he heard the question says a lot about how skilled he actually is — to be able to be present enough to still be competent and safe in that fight, but I could pick up what you’re saying on the outside.”All promotion long, Daley has referred to Page as an “illusion” that he’ll dispel on Feb. 16 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, live and exclusively on DAZN. And MVP is in full agreement.“He’s absolutely correct … I am an illusion,” Page says. “When I’m in the cage, he’s going to see because every time he throws a punch and I’m not there, he’s definitely going to feel an illusion. Power only works when it lands. He’s going to be punching smoke for essentially 25 minutes.” Page heard it entering his July 2016 bout against Evangelista Santos and responded with a flying knee that fractured the Brazilian’s skull. Santos retired; Page improved to 11-0.MORE: Join DAZN and watch Daley vs. Page at Bellator 216He heard much of the same chatter just over four months later against Fernando Gonzalez and wound up earning a split-decision win. Make it 12-0.The tired storyline hit a fever pitch at Bellator 200 last May in London, when MVP was pitted against MMA veteran David Rickels, who pretended to snatch Page’s heart out of his chest during their staredown on the promotion’s media day. MVP didn’t care for the cute gesture too much, clowning Rickels in the cage by doing the Harlem Shake, before obliterating his left eye with a perfectly timed overhand right. His face turned into a red faucet of blood, Rickels verbally submitted in the second round.The only thing missing from Page’s theatrics that fight was a Hadouken fireball straight out of Street Fighter, but you get the idea that if MVP could’ve gotten away with attempting to throw a faux one, he would’ve. Still, he thoroughly relegated Rickels to his nickname “The Caveman” for real — inadequate of surviving extreme conditions. Resume to 13-0.And now here we are, just a few days away from Bellator 216 on Saturday night, when Page faces rival Paul Daley, with critics once again declaring this as MVP’s greatest test yet and many of them expecting Daley to hand his fellow Brit his first loss. Leading up to the fight, MMA stars like Israel Adesanya and A.J. McKee have predicted Daley to leave the cage victorious.