Men’s Cross-Country Headed to NationalsBy Stanley Hu
The men’s cross-country team earned a berth to the NCAA National Championships -- the first time in six years -- by placing fifth in last Saturday’s Division III Regional Qualifiers at University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
“It feels very good [to qualify],” coach Halston W. Taylor said. “The team gets an opportunity to enjoy the experience and show the rest of the nation how well it can compete.”
Daniel R. Feldman ’02 led the way in the five-mile course, placing 11th in 24:54. Christopher S. McGuire ’00 took 16th in 25:12, Sean J. Montgomery ’02 finished 22nd in 25:27, Liyan Guo ’01 followed for 27th in 25:36, and Frank Johnston ’00 rounded out the scoring in 55th place at 26:09.
“Only two of the previous five years did I feel we really had a shot at qualifying for Nationals. When we didn’t, I was disappointed because I felt as though I had let the team down in their preparation.”
Qualifying didn’t come easily, though. The race started fast, and the Engineers found themselves trailing from the beginning. “I was very impressed with their poise and discipline to stick to the game plan when they could have easily panicked due to the quick, early pace of the leaders,” Taylor said.
Plagued by the loss of several key runners, the Engineers had aimed for a third place finish. The top five teams automatically qualify for Nationals. And then Keehr, who normally placed second for the team, suffered a hip injury days before the race.
“[Keehr] ran tough, but he wasn’t able to overcome his injury and fatigue,” Taylor said. None of that matters now. The team qualified, much to the satisfaction of Taylor.
“I could not have hoped for a better outcome given that we essentially have lost two of our top five runners,” he said. The Engineers are shooting to finish in the top 15 teams at the NCAA National Championships, which will be held tomorrow at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The race starts at noon.