Men's Cross Country | Tufts posts positive results at Open New Englands
Rand, Marks, Andrews, Wallis secure fifth place overall
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 01:10
On Sunday, the men’s cross country team seized a rare opportunity for a Div. III squad of any sport: the chance to square off against stellar Div. I opponents at the Open New England Championship at Westfield State. And seize it they certainly did. The Jumbos finished fifth overall and first among Division III squads.
By virtue of having placed four runners in the top 40, Tufts placed fifth out of 37 teams and was outscored only by Dartmouth, Boston College, Yale and Boston University.
With a total of 169 points, the Jumbos edged out the Bowdoin Polar Bears — the second Div. III team and sixth overall to finish — by 62 points.
The impressive charge to the vanguard of all Div. III competitors was led by co−captain Matt Rand, who finished in 15th place overall and first for Tufts with a time of 24:46, and a cadre of upperclassmen who all completed the eight−kilometer course within 30 seconds of one another.
Next across the line in 20th place was senior Kyle Marks who, with a time of 24:58, posted the first sub−25:00 time of his career. Behind him arrived senior Tyler Andrews and junior Ben Wallis, with Andrews completing the course only two seconds ahead of Wallis. The two finished in 34th and 37th place, respectively.
“Tyler Andrews stepped up big for us,” Rand, who is also a contributing writer for the Daily, said. “His performance proved he is capable of being a force in the region this season, [and] this won’t be the last time he breaks into the 24s.”
Arguably the most impressive individual story, however, on a day rife with tremendous efforts, was penned by junior Jake McCauley, who capped off the scoring for the Jumbos in 63rd place. What makes McCauley’s story particularly compelling is not the place in which he finished, but rather the fact that it was his first ever varsity race.
The last runner to finish sub−26:00 was junior Andrew Shapero, whose time of 25:46 earned him 82nd place. Senior Sam Haney brought up the rear of the varsity squad, finishing in 115th place in 26:05.
Although none of them scored for Tufts, juniors Brian McLaughlin, Jamie Norton and Bobby McShane of the JV team all broke the 26−minute mark. Come championship season, these three — among numerous others on a JV squad replete with up−and−coming talent — may very well have a chance to score in meets and even to be decisive scorers.
“Bobby, Jamie, [and I] all sprinted to the lead pack right off the line, which helped us out tremendously because the race strung out at the front and there was plenty of space to make moves,” McLaughlin said. “Then a Dartmouth guy fell off the pack, and I closed the gap, but everything got spaced out by the end, so I just held my position.”
Tufts’ fifth−place finish was an improvement by three spots over last year’s showing, the product of steady progress and timely recovery from injuries as the season has worn on. As such, the team’s outstanding finish came as a surprise to no one, least of all senior Adam Brosh.
“The race went almost exactly as I expected,” Brosh said. “We knew we were good enough to make an impact on the race, and we did.”
It was an especially important performance as well because Westfield State is also the site of the Div. III New England Championship on Nov. 10, where Tufts will face off once again against Bowdoin and Williams, the two other NESCAC schools to break the top 10 overall, as well as other stiff competition in teams such as Bates — ranked first in the NESCAC and fifth nationally — and Middlebury.
“We were the best Div. III team on the course by a lot,” Brosh said. “We showed today that we have all the components necessary to have a great postseason.”
For now, though, the Jumbos are focused on maintaining their current upward trajectory, starting with preparation for the Oct. 13 Connecticut College Invitational.