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Women...s Cross Country Fourth in National Preview; Men Place 11th

By Chris Bruce and Alisha Schor
TEAM MEMBERS

The top seven Engineers on both the men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Wilmington, Ohio last Friday to compete in the National Preview Meet, where the women placed fourth of 15 and the men 11th of 16.

The event was held on the same six- and eight-kilometer courses which will be used for the national championships, an event the MIT women’s team ran six kilometers closer to with a strong result on Friday.

On the strength of their fourth place finish at the meet, the Engineers received their first ever national ranking in the USA Track and Field Coaches’ Association (USATFCA) polls at 19th.

Led by an incredible performance by Maria J. Monks ’10, MIT beat out two teams with national rankings in the pre-season coaches’ polls. Monks finished third overall (of 118 runners) in 22:10, outrun only by two members of last year’s national championship team, SUNY Geneseo.

The next four scorers were close behind, all finishing in the top 30. Jacqui M. Wentz ’10 also dipped under the 23-minute mark despite the soggy course and soft grass, finishing in 22:51, good for 19th place. Wentz was followed by Elizabeth M. Finn, ’09, in 27th place (23:11). Finn, last year’s top MIT runner, has been progressively returning to her freshman year form after spending the summer as a US Forest Service worker.

In the next wave were Jennifer A. Doyle ’09 (23:14, 29th place) and Hana L. Adaniya ’07 (23:18, 30th place), completing the scoring at 104 points, only seven points behind third-place Depauw University of Indiana. Depauw placed 16th at last year’s NCAA Championships. Rounding out the top seven were Rachel M. Niehuus ’07 in 23:30 (37th place) and tri-captain Alisha R. Schor ’07 in 23:56 (60th place).

The high team finish, strong lead runner, and tight chase pack all proved MIT to be team with a true potential to succeed at the regional and national level.

The men’s team, however, did not run quite as well as expected. The rainy conditions, large number of runners, and a possibly mismarked course did not help their cause, as it was difficult to move up through the pack later in the race as they had planned to do. The team’s second runner, Kevin F. Brulois ’07, was unable to make the trip to Ohio, which hurt the team’s scoring possibilities as well.

Despite the adverse conditions, the men did have some good performances. Jacob J. Ruzevick ’09 led the team as usual with a 37th place finish in 26:33. He was followed by Joseph D. Roy-Mayhew ’08 and Trevor B. Rundell ’09, who had great races to finish 51st and 57th, both within 25 seconds of MIT’s lead runner.

MIT’s freshmen also continued to have strong performances, running in the fourth through sixth spots on the team. Johannes A. Schneider ’10 managed a strong 69th place finish in 27:06 despite not feeling well, and Jack H. Bourbonnais ’10 and Brandon J. Pung ’10 pulled through with 91st and 101st place finishes respectively.

Both teams have now seen who the top teams in the nation are and how they race; it is now up to them to compete at that level for the rest of the season.

Tomorrow, the seven who made the trip to Ohio will be resting, although the remainder of the team will have the opportunity to show MIT’s depth at the Mt. Holyoke Invitational. Following that will be MIT’s last home contest, the New England Championship meet at Franklin Park, which will feature the best teams in all NCAA divisions.