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Runners Sweep WPI, RPI

MIT Takes Top 5 At Engineer’s Cup

By Edward A. Keehr and Ray Molnar

TEAM MEMBERS

The men’s cross country team once again blew away the competition at the Engineer’s Cup, sweeping both Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Worchester Polytechnic Institute at Institute Park in Worchester last weekend. Runners of New England’s technical schools get together for the annual event.

With unbelievably hot, humid weather and the course laced with deceiving hills and sharp turns, the race proved to be a formidable test for any seasoned runner. However, with the top seven varsity Beavers logging over 900 miles apiece during their summer training, the MIT team had a decisive advantage over their opponents in such oppressive conditions.

Feldman cruises to the finish line

When the gun went off, junior running sensation Dan Feldman ’02 took the lead and never looked back. Feldman, an NCAA national qualifier in the 5000 meter and last year’s NEWMAC cross country runner of the year, decisively won Saturday’s five mile race with a time of 25 minutes, 17 seconds. He punctuated his victory by breaking down challenging WPI runners. One opposing runner was rushed to the hospital with heat exhaustion.

Trailing right behind Feldman was MIT’s second group, consisting of last year’s top freshman Sean Nolan ’03 along with seniors Ed Keehr ’01 and Liyan Guo ’01. The second group had to race without returning distance star Mark Strauss ’01, who has a strained quadriceps muscle. Strauss, a former NCAA national qualifier in track and the MIT varsity record holder in the indoor 5000-meter run will help offset the loss of 10,000 meter NCAA All-American Chris McGuire ’00.

Beavers blast past other schools

Nolan, Keehr, and Guo, themselves all NEWMAC all-conference selections last year in cross country, proved that they needed neither Strauss nor McGuire to make short work of the top non-MIT competitor, WPI’s 1500 meter standout and top cross country runner Justin Lutz. By the halfway point of the race, they had forgotten about the already far gone Lutz and continued to power themselves to the finish line by lapping the WPI and RPI runners straggling behind on the course. Nolan and Keehr placed 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Guo, despite his unprecedented 1,190 miles logged over the course of the summer, had a more difficult time with the heat and the course and dropped off from Nolan and Keehr, but was able to hang onto fourth place.

Tech’s third group, consisting of Albert Liu ’03, Sean Montgomery ’01, and freshman Brian Anderson ’04 took their race out a little too fast, breaking up early as a result of the unfavorable race conditions. Liu, with his incredible summer distance base, just short of Guo’s, was able to hold on with the top RPI and WPI runners, choosing to pass them at the last moment and placed fifth to complete the MIT sweep. Montgomery and Anderson faded to 14th and 16th places.

Heavy summer training pays off

As a result of his intense summer training regimen, Liu has vaulted from the middle of the MIT runners to being an integral part of the varsity squad. Montgomery, who earned All-American colors in the 1500-meter race during indoor track last year, usually takes a few weeks to adjust himself to the longer cross country races. Hence he faded away from Liu along with Anderson after the two mile mark. Anderson, a native of Burbank, CA, brings to the MIT team his impressive speed and talent, and with his blazing 4:15 mile time, will be a force for years to come.

Overaggressive racing also did in Tech’s fourth group of runners, led by Craig Wildman ’03, who ran a blazing second mile and an even more ambitious third mile. However, like many of the other runners in the race, Craig eventually succumbed to the heat and slowly fell back, hanging on to 12th place overall. George Hanson ’03 ran an outstanding race, starting out conservatively in the heat, then passing runners for the entire race as the heat wore them down. Hanson ended up clipping the nearly delirious Wildman at the end to take 11th overall.

Pounding home the incredible depth in the Beavers this year, though, were Ray Molnar G and Jeff Billing ’01. Despite being 10th and 11th on the MIT team, these returning veterans battled the entire race with RPI’s and WPI’s top five runners to finish 19th and 23rd respectively. Due to little summer training, these two will take a couple of weeks before they are in top form and running along with the rest of the team.

MIT funding limits race roster

Because of recent funding cuts by the athletic department, the rest of the team could not compete at RPI, but instead went out to Fresh Pond on their own to race in the weekly 4.6 mile race held there. They took the top four places.

Next week, the national division III seventh-ranked MIT squad will head out to Tufts’ home course in Grafton to compete against the twelfth-ranked archrivals. Twenty-fourth-ranked Bates will also be in attendance to make it a true early season battle of the titans.