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Varsity runners sprint to third

By Peter Ronco

This past Saturday, the men's varsity cross country team finished third in a strong field of competitors at the annual LeMoyne College Invitational. The junior varsity team continued its dominance over other Division III teams with another victory.

The warm and muggy conditions on race day were not exactly perfect racing conditions, but that did not seem to bother the MIT junior varsity team as they prepared for the first race. A few runners were slightly apprehensive about facing the LeMoyne course, often the subject of veterans' war stories.

Due to this apprehension and respect for a large hill in the first half-mile of the race, the MIT team stayed in the middle of the pack for the first mile. Then, with four miles left in the race, small groups of three or four MIT runners began to move on the leaders. After the next two miles of woody terrain had passed, MIT had improved its overall position to third, behind Geneseo and Ithaca Colleges. Spectators, including Coach Halston Taylor, felt that not much would change after this point in the race.

But the MIT runners obviously had other plans. With two miles to go, John Noland '95 pushed his way into second place and began working on the first place man. At the same time, Eric Olson '95 and Jon Claman '93 worked over their opponents to move into excellent positions. These moves inspired other team members and the entire team gradually began picking off opponents.

With 400 meters left in the race, Claman powered past two more Geneseo runners to finish fourth in the meet. Along with Noland and Olson, this gave MIT a two, three, four finish. Carl Munklewitz '95 and Jesse Hull '95 filled out MIT's top five and enabled the JV team to continue its undefeated season against Division III teams.

Inspired by the tremendous performance of its junior varsity, the MIT varsity team raced its way to a third-place finish in the later meet. Again, the team started out at a controlled pace in the first half mile of the race so as not to get burned out by the large hill. After cresting the hill, however, the entire seven-man team followed its strategy and began to move on the rest of the field. Students from the Rochester Institute of Technology, which is presently ranked seventh in the nation, followed the same plan and moved past the MIT team. These two teams, along with Ithaca, moved farther ahead for the next two miles. After half of the race was finished, the field had essentially narrowed to RIT, Ithaca, St. Lawrence and MIT.

RIT easily took first place with 32 points, leaving Ithaca and MIT to battle for second. In the last 300 meters of the race, the Ithaca team barely sprinted past MIT. Led by Jesse Darley '95 and Ethan Crain '95, MIT accumulated 77 points, just four points out of second. Jerry Pratt '94, David Moyle '94 and Peter Ronco '92 rounded out MIT's top five finishers.

Despite their third-place finish, the team remained upbeat after the meet. Placing well in such a strong field (MIT beat 17 other schools) gives the team confidence that it can perform well in the New England Division III meet, which is the qualifying race for the NCAA Nationals. The junior varsity's performance means MIT cross country can look forward to several more years of success in the immediate future.

Peter Ronco '92 is a member of the men's cross country team.