Team Depth Needed For X-Country WinsBy Ben Schmeckpeper
The MIT Men’s Cross Country team ran to a third place finish at this past weekend’s NCAA Division III PreNationals meet.
The meet, hosted by University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire was the team’s first opportunity to compete on a national stage against quality competition. The team was eager to size themselves up against top teams in the nation, including second ranked UW-La Crosse. Despite the cold, rainy weather the nine harriers who made the trip to the Midwest confidently waited for the gun.
Ben A. Schmeckpeper ’05, racing for only the second time this season, worked his way to among the leaders after the first 1000m, with teammates John A. Brewer ’05 and Eric A. Khatchadourian ’06 close behind. After the first mile mark Dan Winder, the eventual winner from Loras College, took the lead and built a gap that could not be erased. Schmeckpeper was left to fight with a runner from Emory and a runner from Bethel for second place. Schmeckpeper would wind up with a third place finish and a final time of 25:49.
Brewer and Khatchadourian began picking their way through the field and Khatchadourian made a strong move after the 3 mile mark, which moved the tandem into excellent position. Brewer was able to stick with Khatchadourian until just 1000m remained in the race before pulling away to a 13th place finish. Khatchadourian finished just 7 seconds behind in 18th place.
Trailing that duo, Carlos A. Renjifo G was hanging tough and trying to get Kevin F. Brulois ’07 to move up with him. Renjifo eventually took off alone and moved up through the field over the final miles to finish 26th overall. Fivos G. Constantinou ’06, also running in just his second race of the season, ran well over the final two miles, eventually overtaking Brulois to finish as MIT’s fifth man in 45th place.
Following up the top six runners was Chris Wong ’08, running the best race of his short MIT career and barely outrunning fellow freshman Chris M. Bruce ’08. Closing out MIT’s day was Spencer C. Dudley ’07 finishing the five mile course in 27:34 after a long week of academic work and not much sleep.
MIT needed a higher finish from their fifth man to have a chance at winning the meet, but finished third out of the 23 team field, just one point behind second place UW-La Crosse. This being the first race this season with the top nine MIT runners competing at the same time, this weekend’s results confirmed what the team had suspected all along: this team could be among the top in the nation if a strong fifth place runner emerges.
The MIT cross country team returns to racing in New England with the All New England championship on Friday, Oct. 8, a chance for the entire team to run against Division I, II and III competition, with the varsity team angling for a top ten finish.