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Women...s XC 14th at NEICAAA

Men 16th of 45 Teams; Both in Top 10 Among Division III Teams

By Chris Bruce and Alisha Schor

In an effort to seek out the best competition in the region, both MIT cross country teams competed in the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletics Association (NEICAAA) Championships last Saturday at Franklin Park in Boston.

In a large field that included perennial Division III rivals Tufts, Amherst, and Williams, in addition to a number of Division I schools, both squads produced strong results. Continuing their improvement, the women’s team had their highest ever finish, 14th of 46 teams, and the men came in at a strong 16th of 45 teams.

Among Division III competition, the women and men were 7th and 4th respectively. These finishes are important because this meet is the first to be considered by the NCAA when deciding who gets at-large bids to nationals.

Due to the size of the field, the meet was split into a varisty and sub-varsity race for each gender. The sub-varsity women raced first, finishing 13th of 23 teams and setting a high standard for the rest of the team to follow.

Erika M. Erickson ’08 led the way in this race at 27th place, finishing with a personal record (19:37). Also setting personal records for the course were Elizabeth L. Labuz ’09 (20:30), Brianna L. Petrone ’10 (20:41) and Rebecca L. Idell, ’07 (21:03).

In the varsity women’s race, the Engineers tied with Stonehill College for 14th with 471 points. Division I Boston University won the meet with 126 points. As a consequence of a poor starting box, the MIT runners found themselves near the back of the race before the first turn, but ran an aggressive first mile to put themselves back into position. The extra effort took a toll on much of the varsity squad, causing the lower than hoped for finish among Division III teams.

Regardless, every runner in the varsity race set a personal record for the course, a reflection on the team’s improvement over previous years. Two runners dipped under the 19-minute mark: Maria J. Monks ’10 and Hana L. Adaniya ’07. Monks finished in 18:35, making her the second-fastest runner in MIT history at Franklin Park, and Adaniya completed the 5-kilometer course in 18:58, putting her fourth on the all-time list. The overall team time was also the best in MIT’s history, despite missing two of their top five runners.

The men’s varsity team took to the course after the women, and found nearly perfect running conditions that led to many more personal records. Again, the large field made the course extremely crowded and hard to maneuver, but the MIT runners did a good job of starting out hard near the front of the pack to avoid trouble.

After a mile, lead runners Jacob J. Ruzevick ‘09 and Kevin F. Brulois ’07 were in the top 50 runners, and the rest of the team followed close behind. Ruzevick was able to move up and finish the race strong in 23rd place with a time of 25:19, a huge personal best. Despite falling back in the last stretch, Brulois also finished well in 64th place with a time of 25:45, another personal best.

The next string of MIT runners all finished hard as well, with personal bests all around. Joseph D. Roy-Mayhew ’08 broke 26 minutes with a time of 25:56 in 87th place, and freshmen Johannes A. Schneider ’10 and Brandon J. Pung ’10 finished close together with times of 26:14 and 26:18 respectively. Trevor B. Rundell ’09 also finished with a big personal best of 26:29 in 145th place.

These finishes led to an extremely close race between the Division III teams. Bowdoin finished well ahead of the other Division III teams, but Wesleyan, Williams, MIT and Amherst came in that order and were only separated by 13 points total. Wesleyan and Williams were ranked 14th and 22nd in the nation going into this weekend, so this finish bodes well for MIT’s chances in the postseason.

The MIT men also had some great races in the sub-varsity race. Jack H. Bourbonnais ’10 went out in front of the whole field and still finished well in 13th place and a time of 26:17, the 5th fastest time on the team for the day. Jeremiah “Yermie” Cohen ’09 also went out hard and suffered a little at the end, but finished with a big personal best of 26:37.

Tomorrow the team will make the trek to Williamstown, Mass. to compete at the Plansky Invitational. Both the men’s and women’s races will be shorter than typical courses, with the women running a 4K and the men running a 5K (as opposed to the usual 5K and 8K distances), allowing the teams to rest up before the conference championships in two weeks.