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Top Two Earn NCAA Spots for Men’s X-C

By Stanley Hu


Sean P. Nolan ’03 has run hundreds of miles to erase the disappointments of the past year.

Now, he has just one more race to go -- one last crack at redemption.

Nolan and teammate Benjamin A. Schmeckpeper ’05 qualified for the NCAA Division III Men’s National Cross Country Championship last Saturday, cruising to sixth and 10th place finishes, respectively, in the regional championship at Westfield State College. Nolan clocked 24:58 over the five-mile race. Schmeckpeper finished five seconds later in 25:03.

“I’m pleased with the way they raced,” Coach Halston W. Taylor said. “But as well as they ran, they could have run better. They have yet to put their best races together.”

Pair to compete in Minnesota

Nolan and Schmeckpeper will get a chance to do just that when they compete at Nationals, which will be held tomorrow at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Nolan, who holds the school record in the indoor 5000 meters, won the Codfish Bowl Invitational and the NEWMAC championship races decisively earlier in the season. He has been to a national championship three times: twice for cross-country and once for indoor track. But during the past two trips, he struggled to run well, returning empty-handed and disappointed.

“There’s some mystique about Nationals that shakes his confidence,” Taylor said. “I think you need to approach it as a normal race: be aggressive, get out, and do what you do with such passion that you overcome the fear.”

Nolan and Schmeckpeper will need every edge they can get. Schmeckpeper will be returning for his second national championship, and he has never been in better shape. He has run 100 miles in a week. The training paid off -- last month, he posted the second fastest time (24:44) at Franklin Park by an MIT runner.

“I think they can both be All-Americans,” Taylor said. “I’m hoping they’ll finish in the top 25, maybe even in the top 15.”

MIT closes out 2002 season

The rest of the men’s cross country team, however, ended their season in a disappointing fashion. In what was supposed to be a contentious fight for the fourth and last qualifying spot, MIT finished seventh, behind Connecticut College, Trinity College, and Tufts University. Keene State won their fourth consecutive team title, and Ryan Bak from Trinity took first individually. With their #3 runner, Stephen K. Maltas ’06, out with a back injury, the Engineers struggled to make up for lost ground. Brian Anderson ’05 and Eric A. Khatchadourian ’06 finished in 41st and 72nd places, respectively. They were among the bright spots during the cold, snowy day.

“Brian Anderson ran an awesome race,” said Taylor. And “Eric [Khatchadourian] just went out there with the attitude that he would do whatever he could to contribute.”

Albert S. Liu ’03 concluded his collegiate running career with a 64th place finish in 26:28. Carlos A. Renjifo ’05 (26:47) and Craig B. Wildman ’03 (27:22) placed 76th and 112th, respectively.