Men's Cross Country | With their regulars resting, Tufts’ reserves step up to the plate
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 08:10
Fresh off a tremendous showing at the All-New England Championship on Oct. 7, a severely undermanned Tufts men’s cross country team took to Connecticut College on Sunday to compete in the Connecticut College Invitational — the final meet of the regular season.
With Tufts’ top 12 runners spared a day of racing in preparation for the upcoming NESCAC and regional championships, a number of non-scoring runners came through to secure a sixth place finish out of a field of 22 teams, some of whom — including many of the teams that finished ahead of Tufts — ran their top seven runners.
Expectations were not as high as usual, but a slew of impressive performances, including multiple personal bests, ensured that the regular season ended with a bang.
Racing in optimal conditions in what is typically a course on which racers are buffeted by fierce winds, Tufts’ top five all shed substantial seconds off their previous best times to lift the team to a surprising result, finishing behind UConn, Connecticut College, Keene State, SUNY Oneonta and Gwynedd-Mercy.
Paving the way for the Jumbos was sophomore Joseph St. Pierre, who finished in 28th place overall with a new personal-best time of 26:13, one minute and 20 seconds behind overall champion Ryan McGuire of UConn.
The Jumbos’ next three to cross the line did so within two seconds of one another in a thrilling photo finish. Sophomore Greg Hardy took the 35th spot, followed by freshman Michael Curley and sophomore Colin McCrory who claimed the subsequent odd-numbered spots.
McCrory turned in an especially noteworthy performance, as his time this week was 30 seconds faster than the one he put up last week at the All-New England championship.
Freshman James Traester slashed an entire minute off his previous personal best, recording a time of 26:34 to finish in fifth for Tufts and 51st place overall. Senior Luke Maher and sophomore Sam Garfield rounded out the top seven, as Maher dipped just under the 27-minute mark with Garfield trailing him in the end by six seconds.
“I was [especially] impressed by the grit and intensity the freshmen showed today,” St. Pierre said. “Both Michael and James have run personal bests on every course they’ve run on so far, impressive feats marking the start of collegiate athletic careers that are sure to flourish in the coming years. The overall performance speaks volumes of our team’s depth and talent. Our top four all ran significantly under 26:30, with our fifth runner only four seconds off the mark.”
It is no small feat to have delivered against 21 other respected squads from the greater New England region, but the fact that the Jumbos did so with six of their top-seven being underclassmen propelled them further up and over these other schools — and above their much-heralded NESCAC foes — into exceedingly rarefied air.
“We showed off our depth well with our top 12 not racing,” senior Adam Brosh said. “Joseph St. Pierre, Greg Hardy and James Traester [in particular] all ran very well.”
Though Tufts flaunted its enviable depth in the faces of weaker, non-NESCAC opponents, such a display will unquestionably aid the team going forward as the focus of everyone’s attention moves to next week’s NESCAC championships.
The fact that non-scorers have raced so well speaks volumes not only about those who participated in the race, but also about the 12 runners who did not race, lending a great deal of credibility to the heightened expectations that welcomed the Jumbos heading into this season.
Tufts’ top runners are slated to return to run in the NESCAC championships at Bowdoin on Oct. 27. The Jumbos are hoping to ride this wave of momentum to that elusive conference victory, which now seems more attainable than ever before.