Men’s and Women’s Cross Country | Tufts opens season in impressive fashion
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 01:09
The nationally ranked women’s and men’s cross country teams finished second and fourth, respectively, in highly competitive fields at the University of Southern Maine Invitational in Gorham, Maine, on Saturday.
The women, ranked 29th nationally and 5th among NESCAC schools, finished with a 24-second 1-5 spread over the 5,000-meter course to place second to No. 3 MIT by only two points. The Jumbos beat out familiar foes Bates, Colby and Connecticut College.
The Jumbos were led up front by sophomores Olivia Beltrani, who finished fourth overall with a time of 18:23.74, and Audrey Gold, who finished seventh with a 18:26.95 mark. Senior tri-captains Abby Barker and Lauren Creath followed with finishes of ninth and 13th place, respectively, while classmate Laura Peterson capped off the scoring with her 21st place finish, giving the Jumbos a low 54 points on the day.
“The meet was a really good start to the season,” Gould said. “We’re able to run as a pack this season, and I’m especially happy to be running together with my teammates. We planned to go out together and run the first mile hard and tried to work off each other’s energy to run the next two together. Hopefully our top 5-7 can all move up together and get faster, along with the rest of the team, to bring us to a higher finish at NESCACs and regionals.”
Freshman Lindsay Atkeson also got her first taste of racing with a collegiate varsity squad as she was seventh in the field of Jumbos, running herself to a 18:53.64 time, good for 27th place overall. Running tandem with Atkeson was senior Molly Mirhashem, who finished just before her in 25th place.
The rest of the freshman squad also fared well in their first collegiate race, as a slew of new Jumbos finished the “5k” course in under 20 minutes.
Also posting a strong showing was the men’s squad, ranked 11th nationally and fourth among NESCAC schools. The team sent a powerful message to the rest of the competition with their fourth place finish. Despite a spreading sickness on the squad that left them without their top runners — senior Ben Wallace and sophomore Mike Curley — the Jumbos were able to score 95 points over the “5k” course.
Similar to the women’s team, the men utilized running with a group mentality to their advantage, riding an eight-second 1-5 spread in the race. The Jumbos were led by senior Jamie Norton, who finished 15 spots behind the field leader, Bowdoin standout Coby Horowitz. Norton placed just ahead of his two teammates, senior Andrew Shapiro and freshman Tim Nichols, who passed through the finish at 18th and 19th, respectively. Freshman Luke O’Conner, in 21st, and junior Nick Guarnaccia, in 22nd, rounded out the Jumbo stampede.
Pack running helped the Jumbos win NESCACs last season, so it may serve as a key advantage over many other teams this season.
“The meet went pretty well. We planned to go out conservatively for the first two miles, then finish hard for the last three miles,” sophomore James Traester, who finished in 64th place, said. “We wanted to feel great going into the final mile to finish fast. We’re still very pleased with fourth place, despite missing Ben [Wallace] and Mike [Curley] from our lineup.”
Rounding out the top runners for the Jumbos on Saturday was the senior trio Benji Hansen (41st), Bobby McShane (50th) and Brian McLaughlin (51st), who also ran together throughout the race.
“Although this was a great meet for us, I definitely think next weekend’s meet at Bowdoin will help set us up for the rest of the season,” Traester said. “With the addition of Wallace and Curley into the lineup, who both put in a lot of miles this summer, and with a fully healthy squad, I think we can show our full potential.”
Next weekend, the Jumbos will travel to Brunswick, Maine, to the site of last year’s NESCAC Championships, Pickard Field Cross Country Course, for the Bowdoin Invitational.