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Schmeckerpeper Leads Men's X-Country in Sweep at Meet

By Imran Hendley

TEAM MEMBER

The MIT Men’s Cross Country team ran at Franklin Park again last Saturday, this time in the Engineer’s Cup against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Not expecting much competition, MIT’s runners hoped to push each other to better times in preparation for next week’s big race at UMass-Dartmouth.

Ben A. Schmeckpeper ’05 took the lead at the gun and never looked back, crossing the finish in 25:34, a 19 second improvement on last week’s performance. Most of those seconds came in the first mile, which Schmeckpeper ran in 4:50. “That shocked me a bit, and it took me 400 meters or so to convince myself that I would be all right,” he said after the race.

MIT’s next four ran together through three miles before stringing out a bit, but not enough to let RPI’s first man catch up. John A. Brewer ’05 secured second place with a time of 26:28 for his second personal best in as many races. Kevin F. Brulois ’07 was close behind in 26:34, a 31 second improvement on his time at the Alumni Meet.

Next came Eric A. Khatchadourian ’06 in 26:43, followed by Brian C. Anderson ’04 in 26:59 to complete the sweep.

RPI’s first man finished in sixth place, but MIT took six of the next seven spots. Leading that group was Chris J. Fidkowski G, who had the race of the day with his 27:30 time for an 80 second improvement on last week.

Kevin J. DiGenova ’07 and Ian H. Driver ’05 followed in 27:35 and 27:39, respectively. Robbie A. Bryant ’07 split RPI’s next two men for eleventh place in 27:51, then came Sam J. Berberian ’07 (27:54) and Spencer C. Dudley ’07 (27:59) in thirteenth and fourteenth to round out the pack.

Over a minute passed before the next MIT uniform reached the finish, but it was that of Steve J. Stoddard ’06 in 29:07, who is catching up quickly after missing most of the summer on an injured foot. JesÚs R. Alvarez ’07 followed in 29:30, losing ground to Stoddard on the last hill, but still running a personal best.

Imran A. Hendley ’06 and Eric T. Nelson ’07 finished in 30:32 and 30:34, respectively, but will be looking to catch up to Stoddard and Alvarez at the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational next week. There, MIT will face its first real challenge of the season, running against three of the top four teams in New England NCAA Division III, according to the recent coaches poll.

Coach Halston W. Taylor says that the team needs to narrow its first-to-fifth man gap to one minute to become a serious contender for a spot at Nationals, which will be increasingly difficult as Schmeckpeper faces tougher competition. Only the top four teams at the New England Championships on Nov. 15 will go to Nationals this year.