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Dynastic XC Men Win NEWMAC With Eight Of Top Fourteen Times

By Chris Bruce and Alisha Schor

This past Saturday, the men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Championships at Mt. Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass. The men won the championship with only 26 points, while the women finished fourth, 28 points behind the winning Coast Guard team.

The men ran first at 11:00 a.m., but the eight-kilometer course was already very wet and muddy, meaning that fast times would be hard to come by. The course consisted of a narrow, wooded loop including one short and very steep uphill and one steep downhill with a 90-degree turn at the bottom, a combination that provided for some interesting falls during the race. The men repeated this loop three times; the women ran two loops.

The men’s team has won every NEWMAC Championship since the conference was created eight years ago, and they did not intend to let the course conditions affect that.

Coast Guard is perennially the biggest competition on the men’s side, but the team did not factor much into this year’s race. After starting the race slightly behind the main pack of Coast Guard runners, MIT’s harriers moved passed them in the second mile and stayed there to secure their ninth straight NEWMAC title.

Jacob J. Ruzevick ’09 battled with Coast Guard’s top runner Mike Flint for first place in the meet and came up just short to get second place in a time of 27:02.

Ruzevick was followed closely by Joseph D. Roy-Mayhew ’08, Johannes A. Schneider ’10, and Kevin F. Brulois ’07, who all finished within seven seconds of each other to grab fourth, fifth, and seventh place respectively.

Rounding out the scoring for MIT was Jack H. Bourbonnais ’10, in eighth place with a time of 27:41. The MIT men also had three more runners receive All-Conference honors: Trevor B. Rundell ’09 in 10th place, Christopher M. Bruce ’08 in 12th, and Christopher Wong ’08 in 14th. All told MIT had an amazing eight of the first 14 runners, which gave them a miniscule 26 points, well ahead of second place Coast Guard’s 63.

The women’s team, with similar goals as the men, did not experience similar success. The MIT pack was missing two of their top five runners (Rachel M. Niehuus ’07 and Jacqui M. Wentz ’10), who got boxed out at the start and found themselves near the back of the race before the first turn into the woods, an error from which they never recovered.

The flooded course made it nearly impossible for runners to exchange positions for much of the first mile, and by the end of the first loop MIT was struggling to establish their place amidst a sea of Coast Guard and Wellesley runners.

At the end of the second loop, positions remained essentially the same and MIT finished a disappointing fourth place with 82 points. Coast Guard won the meet with 54 points, followed by Wellesley with 66 and Smith with 77.

A few individuals had strong races, including much-improved senior Hana L. Adaniya ’07, who finished in eighth place to earn All-Conference honors. Maria J. Monks ’10 was the only other Engineer to receive this distinction, finishing in fifth place despite a heavy fall in the middle of the race.

A pair of MIT sophomores also appeared to be peaking well for the end of the season, with Erika M. Erickson ’09 finishing as the final MIT scorer at 25th place and Elizabeth L. Labuz ’09 breaking into MIT’s top seven for the first time this season in 32nd place.

The final guaranteed meet of the post-season will be the NCAA New England Division III Regional meet on Nov. 11 at Springfield College. The regional meet serves as one of the qualifying criteria for nationals, a goal both teams have their sights set on.

The men, on the heels of another great NEWMAC race, have gained some momentum going into this important meet, while the women hope to bounce back from last Saturday, an anomaly in an otherwise exceptional season.

To advance to nationals, the MIT teams need to either get first or second place at the regional meet, or run well enough to earn an At-Large bid.