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Men’s Cross-Country Earns an Unexpected Win vs. Tufts, Bates

By Sean P. Nolan

The MIT men’s cross country team travelled to Maine on Saturday prepared to do battle against nationally ranked teams Tufts (12th) and Bates (19th). The Engineers had only a slim chance of winning the meet, but this did not discourage the Tech runners. Also to MIT’s advantage, the numbers 2 and 3 runners for Tufts and the number 3 runner for Bates were out with injuries.

The course was populated with quad-burning hills and was slightly long at 5.05 miles. Due to rain from Hurricane Floyd, a section of the course was under water so a last minute course alteration was made, adding uncertainty to an already tough course. The Engineers handled the difficult terrain well, and in the end MIT won the meet with a close final score of 40 to Bates’ 41 and Tufts’ 44.

Daniel R. Feldman ’02 of MIT, Mike Danahy of Bates, and Matt Lyons of Tufts sped through the first mile in 5:03 despite the numerous hills to form the the lead group. Two Bates runners lurked close behind the lead group and about 20 seconds behind them was the main pack, consisting of a mix of MIT, Bates, and Tufts runners.

Around mile three, the lead group began to string out, with Danahy leading, Feldman in second, and Lyons in third. Edward A. Keehr ’01, and Sean Montgomery ’01 were close on the heels of All-American miler Matt Twiest of Bates, and were themselves closely shadowed by one Bates and two Tufts runners. Another battle was going on in the third group, consisting of two MIT runners, Phillip J. Loiselle ’01, and Liyan Guo ’01, two Bates runners, and two Tufts runners. Meanwhile, a group of three MIT runners -- W. Frank Johnston ’00, Christopher S. McGuire ’00, and Sean P. Nolan ’03 -- were gaining ground on the other teams’ fourth and fifth runners. The race was turning out to be very evenly matched.

Teams fight for a difficult win

At mile four, the top three positions remained unchanged, while Keehr and Twiest were in a struggle for 4th place. Montogomery and Loiselle were racing well but were no longer able to gain ground on Tufts’ and Bates’ number 3 runners. However, Johnston, Guo, McGuire, and Nolan were gradually pulling away from Tufts’ and Bates’ 5th runner.

The positions remained the same through the finish, with Feldman 2nd, Keehr 5th, Montgomery 9th, and Loiselle 11th. Through four runners, the score was Bates 24, MIT 27, and Bates 27. The outcome of the meet was still in question. Johnston was the 5th runner for MIT, and Guo, McGuire, and Nolan all finished ahead of both opposing teams’ 5th runner, helping to secure a one point victory over Bates.

All the Tech runners gave a great effort in this grueling race, and thanks to strong performances from the team’s top runners and good strategy implemented by the entire team, MIT was able to defeat rivals Bates and Tufts. This Saturday the cross-country team competes in the Codfish Bowl at Grafton, where its teamwork will again be tested.