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MIT Men’s X-Country Rookies Show Promise Against Alumni

By Imran Hendley

TEAM MEMBER

The MIT men’s cross country team met team alumni Saturday at Franklin Park to kick off what appears to be a promising season. The alumni brought a full team of seven to run this year, but that did not include 2002 Cross Country MVP, Sean P. R. Nolan G, who could only watch from the sidelines with a stress fracture in his foot.

The race went out well with team captain and returning All-American Ben A. Schmeckpeper ’05 taking an early lead. Brian C. Anderson ’04, Eric A. Khatchadourian ’06, and John A. Brewer ’05 followed behind after catching Bob Collins ’82, and Ethan Crain G, but found it hard to pull away. Crain was All-American in Cross Country, National Outdoor Champion in the 1,500 meter, and still holds the school record in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Not far behind, Ian H. Driver ’05 led five freshmen in the chase pack with eyes on the fifth spot.

The top six places looked all but wrapped up after four miles. Schmeckpeper went on to win comfortably in a time of 25:53 for the 4.95-mile course, followed by Anderson in 26:43. Despite having difficulty breathing coming down the last hill, Khatchadourian held on for third place in 26:46, and Brewer wasn’t far behind, finishing in 26:55. The fifth spot did not go to the alumni, however, when Kevin F. Brulois ’07 put down an impressive kick to cross the finish in 27:05 and to complete the sweep. Crain was later overheard saying, “He blew by me like he just came off the starting line.”

Crain and Collins took sixth and seventh in 27:14 and 27:17, respectively, followed by Spencer C. Dudley ’07 (27:42), Robbie A. Bryant ’07 (27:46), Kevin J. DiGenova ’07 (27:47), Driver (27:54), and Sam J. Berberian ’07 (28:03). Alum Craig B. Wildman G put on a sprint at the end, but came up half a step behind, also with a time of 28:03. Perhaps Berberian’s camouflage patterned racing spikes made him blend into the surroundings so well that Wildman never knew that he just missed 12th place. Sean Montgomery G, with multiple All-Americans in track, took 16th place, followed by John Biesiadecki ’01 in 20th, then Ryan E. Peoples G in 22nd, who used his final year of eligibility to run for MIT as a graduate student last year, and finally Rob Casadonte ’94 in 23rd to round out the alumni.

Other people to look out for on the varsity side this year include Fivos G. Constantinou ’06, who had a disappointing race, but who ran 16:00 for five kilometers at time trials the week before, and Stephen K. Maltas ’06 and Carlos A. Renjifo ’04 who both ran well last year and are just coming back from injuries.

According to Schmeckpeper, the stage is set for a good season, but the team needs to stay healthy, freshmen need to step up, and a lot of work is left to be done.