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Men’s X-Country Excels At Franklin Park Races

By Sergio M. Navarro

TEAM MEMBER

The MIT men’s cross-country team had an exceptional performance last Friday at the All-New England Championships in Franklin Park, finishing 12th out of a field of 46 schools. Coming off the capture of the Codfish Bowl title two weeks ago, the Engineers faced another stiff test against top Division I schools -- Providence and Brown -- and the toughest Division III schools in the region.

“I was extremely proud of the way our guys competed. Nearly all of our runners ran their fastest times ever, and those who did not had good reason,” said Coach Halston Taylor.

In fact, all but four of MIT’s seventeen ran their fastest times ever at the meet. Ben A. Schmeckpeper ’05 led the Engineers for the day with a stellar time of 24:44, the second fastest time ever by an MIT runner at Franklin Park. Schmeckpeper finished 15th in the drizzling rain, winning All New-England honors.

Captain Sean P. Nolan ’03 was close behind his teammate, claiming 23rd place with a time of 24:52.

“I’m impressed with the way everyone ran on Friday. We’re improving,” Nolan said. “We’re a good team, but we have some tough competition and it’s going to take some improvement from everyone in order to win the NEWMAC title and place well at the New England Division III championships.”

The large gap between Tech’s third and fourth runners continued to be their biggest weakness, as 45 seconds separated Steve K. Maltas ’06 and Brian Anderson ’05. Nevertheless, Maltas ran his fastest time ever at 25:33, while Anderson clocked in at 26:18. Carlos A. Renjifo ’04 finished 5th for MIT and 145th overall with an all-time best of 26:24 to cap Tech’s scoring.

Overall, MIT ran a very well- paced race, showing patience and focus en route to their outstanding finish.

In the sub-varsity race, Tech ran even better, tying for 3rd in the 26-team field, first among Division II and III colleges. MIT boasted a 21-second spread for their top five runners, led by Albert S. Liu ’03 in 26:25. Eric A. Khatchadourian ’06 (26:28), David S. Gray ’06 (26:35) and Fivos G. Constantinou ’06 (26:43) followed to show Tech's depth and youth. Ian H. Driver ’05 closed out the scoring with a personal best of 26:46 to place 51st overall.

The team’s performance on Friday was good enough for 5th place among the top Division III teams in the region. Unfortunately, only the top four teams automatically qualify to compete at the national championship race.

“We have a lot of work to do if we hope to return to the national championship on November 23,” Taylor said, “But we’re up to the challenge.”

The Engineers are eagerly looking ahead to next week’s James Early Invitational at Westfield State.