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Men's Cross Country | Haney’s individual title leads Tufts to fourth-place finish

Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 07:11

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Andrew Morgenthaler / Tufts Daily Archives

Tufts finished fourth at the ECAC Championships, a strong showing especially considering the team was using its second seven runners.

With a win at the NESCAC Championship in the bag, Tufts’ top seven runners were given the week off to rehabilitate and prepare for the New England Championship. Coach Ethan Barron’s decision to rest his top runners allowed the team’s second seven runners to spearhead the Jumbos’ performance at the ECAC Div. III Championship held last weekend at Williams College.

Led by senior Sam Haney, a pre-race favorite and the eventual race winner, Tufts notched a fourth-place finish out of 43 teams to cap off a season rife with outstanding performances by the runners not typically used in the top seven. 

Amherst captured the team title at the event, placing three runners in the overall top five to accumulate a grand total of 44 points. Bates and Williams filled out the subsequent two spots, while Tufts, a mere four points behind Williams, beat out Middlebury for fourth place by nearly 80 points, the widest margin between any of the top five teams. 

Though ominous conditions loomed prior to the race due to Hurricane Sandy, the eight-kilometer course dried up quickly enough so that, once the race commenced, the competitors were able to post decent times.

When the gun sounded, each of Tufts’ seven runners burst out of the gate and stuck with the lead pack until the first giant hill around two miles in, at which point the previously clustered runners splintered into a number of distinct packs. 

“As a team we wanted to be aggressive and get out front early to try and put pressure on the other teams,” senior co-captain Jeff Marvel said. “[And] I think we were able to do that.”

The second time up the same hill, many more began to fade while the title contenders, including Haney, broke away and built up a head of steam over the final mile to fuel their kick over the last stretch of the course. 

Haney stayed with the lead pack for the entirety of the race, but at the 200-meter mark, he was able to turn his intensity up and outkick the rest of the field to emerge victorious. With a time of 26:23, he finished a mere three seconds ahead of freshman Todd Ford of Williams to claim his first individual title.

Next across the line for Tufts was sophomore Marshall Pagano, whose time of 27:07 earned him the 13th spot in a field of 287. Junior Jamie Norton was three seconds behind Pagano in 16th place. 

Freshman Michael Curley and sophomore Joseph St. Pierre secured the next two spots for Tufts to round out the top-five, as Curley finished in 27th and St. Pierre in 31st

Sophomore Greg Hardy and Marvel brought up the rear for the Jumbos, as Hardy finished four spots behind St. Pierre in 35th, while Marvel took 60th

“We just ran out of gas at the end,” Marvel said. “[We] didn’t have the kind of second half that we were hoping for.”

A fourth-place team finish and an individual title were certainly fitting results for a team whose varsity and non-varsity members have been at the top of their game for much of the season, and the Jumbos look to continue the multi-level success at the New England Championships on Nov. 10 with their top seven back in action. 

“We went out and showed the rest of New England that we’re ready to compete at a high level on both the regional and national stage,” Pagano said. “I think the target is on our back now to a certain extent, at least within the region.  Nationally, the power houses are still getting most of the recognition, but we think we can run with those schools come Nationals.”

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