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Men's cross country makes nationals

By Robert Zak

The men's cross country team qualified for next week's NCAA Division III Championships in Atlanta after placing fourth of 30 New England schools competing at Southeastern Massachusetts University (SMU) last Saturday.

The race left the Engineers with mixed emotions: satisfaction in qualifying for the nationals by running their best race of the season, and disappointment at placing fourth behind Bates, Brandeis, and SMU.

SMU's Kevin White set a fast pace on his home course, cruising through the first mile (a flat, slightly downhill stretch) in 4:22. White eventually won the race with a new course record of 24:11.

MIT's top runners, Gordy Holterman '87 and Anton Briefer '88, ran the first mile in approximately 4:40. Holterman battled for a spot in the top five with runners from Westfield State and Bates. The second mile, run through a foot-deep water hazard and up a soggy grass slope, took Holterman under ten minutes to complete. The rest of MIT's scoring team was also in good position after the second mile, as most were still in the top 20.

Holterman began to fade at the crest of the hill at the end of the third mile, and he dropped 22 places over the next two miles. Briefer and Rod Hinman '88 took the team lead as they watched their teammate fall to 27th place.

Coach Halston Taylor later commented on the last two miles, "No, you didn't slow down, everyone else just sped up."

Hinman led the Engineers to the finish line, placing 16th overall with a time of 25:06 in the second consecutive race he finished first among MIT runners. Briefer was right on Hinman's heels, finishing 17th in 25:07. Terry McNatt '87 was 23rd in 25:16. Will Sauer G crossed the line two positions back in 25:19. Holterman completed MIT's scoring team, finishing in 27th place with a time of 25:25, only 19 seconds behind Hinman.

All of the Engineers, including sixth and seventh men, Bill Mallet '86 and Turan Erdogan '87, improved previous personal record times by more than 23 seconds.

MIT earned 108 points -- and a fourth place finish -- for its performance. Bates won the meet with 73 points, Brandeis was second with 77 and host SMU finished third with 86 points. No other schools were close -- fifth place Colby amassed over 220 points.

Even so, the Engineers did earn the opportunity to try again against Brandeis, SMU and St. Joseph's in Atlanta. Brandeis, Bates and Colby do not participate in the NCAA Championships.

The season is not over yet, and the MIT cross country team is determined to break into the ranks of the top 10 schools in the country, even if it means another set of team wide personal records and coming back to beat Brandeis and SMU.

(Editor's note: Robert Zak G is the manager of the men's cross-country team.)