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X.C. Runs Well at Kick-off Event

By Christopher Bruce

a

nd Alisha Schor
TEAM MEMBERS

The men’s and women’s cross country teams showed great potential at last Saturday’s season opener on their home course in Franklin Park. In the traditional Labor Day Alumni Meet, the women Engineers showed significant improvement over last year, with seven members of the team running faster than last year’s third-place time. The men’s team also fared well, running times comparable to former Tech teams that have won all eight NEWMAC championships since MIT joined the conference.

On the women’s side, the improvement showed not only in the faster times but also in smaller spreads between runners, a key to cross country success. Last weekend, the spread between the first and fifth runner was a mere 23 seconds for the women, with Jacqui M. Wentz ’10 winning the five kilometer race in 19:43. In second place, and also dipping under the 20 minute mark, was another promising new runner Maria J. Monks ’10 who ran a 19:57. Rounding out the scoring five were Rachel M. Niehuus ’07 (20:08), Alisha R. Schor ’07 (20:10) and Adrienne M. Bolger ’09 (20:10). Only four runners, fewer than the fiver runners needed to fill out a scoring team, ran for the alumni team.

This season opener produced a team result that is already superior in team performance to any 5K meet last season, and the success was apparent beyond the top finishers. In addition to the personal bests recorded by Niehuus and Bolger, Jennifer A. Doyle ’09, Elizabeth L. Labuz ’09, and Rebecca L. Idell ’07 all exceeded their previous bests for the course.

Notably absent from the meet due to minor injuries were a number of athletes expected to be scoring runners this season, including Erika M. Erickson ’08, and captains Karen L. Condon ’07 and Jessica A. Thompson ’07. The Engineers are hopeful that their return will help the team improve on last year’s twelfth place finish at the NCAA New England Division 3 Regional meet, which was the highest finish in the history of the women’s team.

The men’s team performance last Saturday was also promising. After losing both captains from last season, the young team has gaps to fill and room for improvement. Inexperience showed in their 25-32 loss to older counterparts in the annual Alumni meet; despite this, there were several strong performances for so early in the season.

Jacob J. Ruzevick ’09 led the team with a fourth place finish and a personal best of 25:56 for the 8 kilometer course. He was followed by Kevin F. Brulois ’07 (26:17) and Christopher M. Bruce ’08 (26:30). Filling out the top five for MIT were two freshmen running the college 8K distance for the first time. Brandon J. Pung ’10 finished eighth in 26:46, and Jack H. Bourbonnais ’10 followed close behind in 26:55. Christopher Wong ’08 and Joseph D. Roy-Mayhew ’08 also sneaked in under 27 minutes with times of 26:56 and 26:58 respectively.

Despite the loss, the men compared well to good teams from years past and are looking to qualify for Nationals for the first time since 2001. If they can succeed in getting a smaller spread between their first and fifth runners and if runners from last year’s varsity team can reclaim their spots, they will be a force to be reckoned with in the post-season.

Tomorrow, both the men’s and women’s teams face Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the Engineer’s Cup, the second of three home meets at Franklin Park. Both teams won this meet last year. The women’s 5K race begins at 1:00 p.m., and the men’s 8K follows at 1:45 p.m.