Schmeckpeper Places 8th in National MeetBy Imran Hendley
On November 20th, Ben A. Schmeckpeper ’05 finished his MIT Cross Country career with an eighth place finish at the NCAA National Championships, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Schmeckpeper, MIT’s lone representative at the meet, tied the second highest finish by an MIT runner at nationals and earned his second cross country All America award.
After finishing 32nd and 38th his sophomore and junior years, Schmeckpeper came to au Claire confident in his ability to beat the best runners in the country. But for Schmeckpeper to win, he would have to defeat the defending champion, senior Josh Moen of Wartburg College in Iowa.
From the start Moen dictated the pace, and jumped to a small lead after the first mile mark. Schmeckpeper came through the first mile in 4:53 and found himself leading the chase pack. Over the next two miles, Schmeckpeper ran in third place, attempting to close the gap between himself and the leaders, Moen and sophomore Macharia Yuot of Widener University.
After the three mile mark, however; the strain of chasing the leaders began to take its toll and Schmeckpeper fell back to tenth place.
As the field entered the final mile, Moen retained the lead, Yuot had began to fall back to the chase pack and places three through ten were tightly bunched. Moen would continue on to win by thirteen seconds, but Yuot fell back more than twenty places in the last kilometer, finishing in 24th place. Neal Holtschulte from William’s College and Mike Sawicki from Otterbein College then proceeded to take Yuot’s place up top.
With 1,000 meters left in the race Schmeckpeper had established himself in eighth place. Unable to kick any faster than his opponents, Schmeckpeper could not move up in the final half mile, finishing just one second behind fifth place.