Alum Takes the Lead in 5K RaceBy Imran Hendley
MIT Men’s Cross Country opened its season on Saturday, September 4th at Franklin Park with the annual Alumni meet.
Coming off a promising five-kilometer time trial the previous Saturday, Varsity was looking to add new talent to its top seven with a strong incoming freshman class. With top returnees Ben A. Schmeckpeper ’05, Kevin C. Brulois ’07, Eric A. Khatchadourian ’06, John A. Brewer ’05, and Carlos A. Renjifo G all coming in healthy, Varsity’s prospects were looking good against the traditionally disorganized Alumni squad.
But when news came in that former All-American Ethan Crain ’95 had been heavily recruiting alumni for this year’s race, some doubts began to creep into the minds of the MIT men. And when Coach Halston W. Taylor announced his plan to score the meet based on age-adjusted finishing times, Varsity began to fear the worst.
Breaking expectations, Schmeckpeper did not take an early lead. Instead he kept with Sean P. R. Nolan ’03, Khatchadourian, and Renjifo through two miles. And it was not Schmeckpeper, but Khatchadourian who took the lead near the end of the second mile. Looking like his old self, Nolan responded by catching Khatchadourian and taking over the lead after the third mile mark. Nolan held and then increased his lead to win the individual title for the Alumni for the first time since Jesse C. Darley ’95 in 1998. Nolan finished in a time of twenty-five minutes and forty-seven seconds for the 4.95-mile distance.
MIT’s top seven took the next seven places behind Nolan, with Khatchadourian crossing the line in 26:06, with Brewer on his heels in 26:07, followed by Schmeckpeper in 26:18, then Brulois in 26:30, Renjifo in 26:38, Spencer C. Dudley ’07 in 26:47, and freshman Christopher M. Bruce in 26:49.
In addition to Nolan, scoring for the alumni were W. Sumner Brown ’66 in 32:01, whose time put him in fifth place under the age-adjusted system, Robert M. Collins Jr. ’82 in 27:45, who snuck into ninth place ahead of Bruce, Terrance J. McNatt ’87 in 26:50, who managed eleventh, Craig B. Wildman ’03 in 26:59 for twelfth, Robert C. Zak Jr. ’84 in 31:12 for twenty-seventh, and last year’s number-two runner Brian C. Anderson ’04 in 30:46 for twenty-eighth. Anderson showed up with the intention only to watch the race, but was forced to run by the likes of Crain.
Also running for the Alumni were Liyan Guo ’01, John Biesiadecki ’02 and Gerald W. Lucas II ’82.
Not to be discounted for Varsity were the efforts of Christopher Wong ’08, Kevin J. DiGenova ’07, Grant C. Hofmeister ’08, Ian H. Driver ’05, Erik I. Stafl ’08, and Martin F. Holmes ’08, who will be looking to break into the top seven this year or in the future.
When the dust settled, Varsity walked away with a 22-40 victory over the Alumni, but they know Ethan Crain will be back, and they know that a strong New England Division III field awaits them in the 2004 season as they look towards Nationals.