Men’s Cross Country | No. 14 Jumbos post strong showing at Bowdoin
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 09:10
The Tufts men’s cross country team placed second at the Bowdoin Invitational in Brunswick, Maine, held at Pickard Field on Saturday.
Bowdoin (No. 6) picked up the win with 27 points without their number one runner, Coby Horowitz. The Jumbos, now ranked 14th nationally in Div. III by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, scored a low 54 points.
Bowdoin’s revered Pickard Field Cross-Country Course has been regarded as one of the best in the Northeast. Its grassy- and wood chip-covered flat surfaces allow runners to put up very fast times, especially at season’s end when runners decrease their training miles and train solely for fast races in championship events.
Senior captain Ben Wallis opened his season with an individual win by dominating the 8-kilometer course, running 25:28.52, 32 seconds ahead of his closest competitor. Wallis, who placed seventh in the 3000 meter steeplechase at last year’s NCAA Div. III Outdoor Track and Field Championships, returns this year as a favorite to place well at the national cross country championship.
“It was my first race back this season, so I just wanted to shake off the rust and get back into the groove of racing. I ran 5:04 for my first mile and tried to keep it there or even run faster,” Wallis said. “As a team, we wanted to get off the line very quickly and run together with consistent pacing and a fast final two miles to put us in the hunt for a team win.”
“This race was still just used as a rust buster for most of our guys,” said coach Ethan Barron, who is in his ninth season as the men’s cross country coach. “We had the flu going around on the team last week so a few of our guys made their debuts, while others got out for their second race of the season.”
Overall, the Jumbos placed nine runners in the top 25. Once again, they rode success through strategic pack running, as juniors Marshall Pagano, Colin McCrory and Greg Hardy, as well as freshman Bobby McLaughlin, all stayed within 10 seconds of each other, and placed 13th through 16th, respectively. Also on their tails were junior Sam Garfield and sophomore James Traester, who placed 18th and 19th respectively.
“This meet gave us a lot of confidence and reminded us that we have a lot of potential,” Wallis said. “We are going through a few hard training weeks with difficult workouts and a lot of miles, so we were racing on tired legs. The team did what they had to do.”
The deep Jumbo squad rested their entire top seven from the University of Southern Maine Invitational, where they earned a fourth place finish.
“I believe that college runners really have four to five great ‘8k’ races in their legs every season,” Barron said. “We rested our top six to seven guys from USM because they are projected to last farther into the season. We might need them to be on their game with fresh legs at ECACs [Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships], NESCACs, regionals and nationals.”
Among the runners Barron rested were freshmen Tim Nichols and Luke O’Connor. Last week, they ran very well at the USM Invite and, along with fellow freshmen McLaughlin and Michael Coughron, will add youth to a growing Tufts squad and serve as major contributors to the team this season.
“At this point, it’s tough to say how the freshmen will impact our team,” Barron said. “They have been doing well and have a lot of potential, but we’ll have to wait until later in the season to actually watch it come full circle.”
The Jumbos have next weekend off, but return to competition at Boston’s Franklin Park on Oct. 12 for the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association Championship meet which features Div. I, II and III cross country teams from the area.
“New Englands is a large race that goes out fast. It will hopefully give us the experience we need to get back to nationals again,” Wallis said. “We have the depth to place well in the varsity and sub-varsity races, so it will be quite the learning experience for the team.”