Crain, Darley Lead Men's X-C to 10th at NCAAsBy Arnold Seto
On Nov. 19th, the men's cross country team competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III Championships in Bethelem, Pa. Racing against the best in the nation, the Engineers scored 298 points, tying Haverford College for 10th place.
Ethan Crain '95 and Jesse Darley '95 took their rightful place among the champions with All-American performances. The pair went out with the lead pack of runners and remained there for the entire race.
Both had hopes of winning the race outright, but Crain was plagued with a recurring stomach ailment, while Darley, on this day, didn't possess the concentration to match his desire.
Darley said, "I felt like a spectator with a very good seat," with little control over the events unfolding.
Still, both Crain and Darley finished extremely well. Crain ran the five-mile race in 25 minutes, 15.0 seconds for ninth place, and Darley was right behind in 25:15.8 for 10th. Thus both received All-American honors, the highest award available to college athletes.
Most of the other MIT team members also fared well in the race, even if not as well as they hoped.
Josh Feldman '97 and Dan Helgesen '97 ran a conservative race strategy, and together passed many runners in the later miles. Of the approximately 190 elite runners in the race, both Feldman and Helgesen started near the 150th position before gradually moving up to finish in the 102nd (26:43) and 120th places (27:03), respectively.
Arnold Seto '96 had a disappointing race, possibly due to pre-race anxiety. He started in good position but lost ground quickly as cramps and tightness came on. Struggling to maintain position, he finished 146th in 27:28.
Mark Feldmeir '96 ran one of his best races of the year. He steadily pounded out the miles to finish 153rd in 27:43. Tye Schlegelmilch '98, the only freshman in the varsity top seven, used the excitement of the race positively to finish 169th in 28:23.
MIT tied for 10th place in a tight team competition. Their score of 298 (individual runners were removed from the team score calculation) narrowly beat out the 11th place score of 301 and the 12th place score of 306. All of the MIT runners fought hard for every place, which made a big difference in the final results.
Even though the Engineers were ranked 12th going into the meet, they anticipated that they could finish anywhere from eighth to 14th, depending on how well each member raced.
Coach Halston Taylor summed up the result in stating, "It was a good race. About what we expected."
The race gave the team some much needed experience running against elite competition.
Darley, the team captain, stated that he was "happy to have the team gain some experience running in nationals" so that next year it can be even more prepared.
Williams defeats North Central
Williams College, MIT's main rival in the New England Region, ran a well-executed race to defeat the perennial powerhouse North Central College and capture the championship.
Williams scored 98 points, besting North Central by 12 points. Williams' performance was exemplified by Jeremie Perry, who took over the lead after two miles and won by a large margin.
The race and its accompanying athletes' dinner was made into quite an event by the host institution, Moravian College. Billy Mills, the famous winner of the 1964 Olympic 10,000 meter race, gave the athletes a moving motivational speech Friday night, urging them to focus on positive goals and believe in themselves.
The college held a fabulous fireworks show that woke up the sleepy town of Bethelem. The race itself featured more fireworks, a marching band, and a deejay-like announcer. The atmosphere was festive yet intense.
Despite its good performance this year, the cross country team is looking ahead to their next season. Five of the top seven runners will be returning next year, including Crain. Although Darley will be graduating, with everyone else improving steadily, his loss should be more than overcome.
Williams College will once again be a major challenge next season, as the Ephs graduate only their seventh man and will be looking to win back-to-back championships.