Aidan Tooker, Noah Affolder now lead Syracuse track and field by competing with each other

Aidan Tooker, Noah Affolder now lead Syracuse track and field by competing with each other

first_imgAs a freshman, Noah Affolder stood on the center of the award podium. To his right stood sophomore teammate Aidan Tooker. The two had just placed first and second respectively in the 3000m Steeplechase at the 2018 ACC Outdoor Championships.But this wasn’t the first time the two have been at the top of the podium. Affolder and Tooker, former competitors in the New York high school ranks, have been attached to each other for years.Tooker committed to Syracuse as a high school senior, and helped recruit Affolder to the Orange to run alongside him. After taking the top-two spots at ACC Championships, the two both placed in the top-10 in NCAA championships in the steeplechase. Now a junior and sophomore, respectively, Tooker and Affolder look to lead SU after a disappointing cross-country season, in which the Orange failed to win the ACC title for the first time in five years.“I see him as an equal competitor,” Tooker said. “And we build off each other.”Three years ago, the two were both part of strong cross-country programs — Tooker represented Saratoga Springs, while Affolder represented Carthage. The two were consistently No. 1 and No. 2 in New York State meets, SU distance coach Brien Bell said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut the two hardly knew each other, Tooker said. They exchanged words of encouragement before races and followed each other on Instagram, but never went out of their way to bond.But when Affolder, then a junior, was allowed one free ticket to a basketball game during his recruitment, he wanted to capitalize on the opportunity. So, he invited Tooker to the Carrier Dome. After the game, they went to Empire Brewing Company for burgers and talked with current runners about Affolder’s college decision.“Looking back on that, it’s pretty cool,” Tooker said. “That I can look back and remember us ordering burgers and just hanging out.”After the meet up, Affolder decided to join his now-friend Tooker at SU. In his first season, Affolder joined eventual 5000-meter indoor NCAA Champion Justyn Knight and learned from seniors like Philo Germano and Colin Bennie. But, he ran primarily with Tooker, then.In Affolder’s mind, he underwhelmed in his debut to indoor ACC Championships in 2018, where he was lapped by several runners. Affolder was then scratched from the rest of the weekend events after the performance.After Affolder’s inconsistency, the two made it an emphasis to train together for the outdoor season. As Tooker taught the then-freshman his skills in the steeplechase, the results followed.“He’s phenomenal at steeple,” Affolder said. “So I know if I stick right by his shoulder and battle out with him in practice every day when we do race each other, we will both elevate each other to be the best.”While there are no designated captains on SU’s squad, consistent with program tradition, certain runners are given more respect and authority based upon past performance, Tooker said.“It’s natural selection,” Bell said.Affolder and Tooker have been given plenty of respect with their top-finishes paving the way. Now, after Tooker helped Affolder get where he is, they want to spread that “one-up” mentality.“They know that when one is good, the other is going to be better,” Bell said. “It’s a sense of feeding off of each other.” Facebook Twitter Google+ Commentscenter_img Published on January 22, 2019 at 10:50 pm Contact Tim: [email protected]last_img

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