Men’s Cross Country | Tufts runs well at Conn., looks forward to postseason
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 08:10
Members of the men’s cross country squad traveled to Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, Conn. for the Connecticut College Invitational on Saturday. The Jumbos, who did not send their top-12 runners from the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association Championships, scored 323 points en route to a 14th place finish against many teams that were racing their full squads at full strength.
The 8-kilometer course goes around the park in a series of loops adjacent to the seashore, making the course both windy and scenic.
“The Conn. College course is the same course where NESCACs will be held [on Nov. 2],” junior Colin McCrory said. “The entire course is right by the beach and is very grassy, sandy and flat.”
McCrory led the Jumbos on Saturday, as he placed 49th overall with his 26:43 finish. Junior Sam Garfield was right on his tail with a 51st place finish in 26:45. Freshman Bobby McLaughlin also had an impressive performance, just missing breaking the 27-minute barrier, running a 27:03 for 69th place overall. Sophomore 800-meter specialist Mitch Black and junior Joseph St. Pierre rounded out the scoring for the Jumbos, as they placed 83rd and 90th with finishing times of 27:22 and 27:30, respectively.
“This was our last race of the regular season and the last race of the entire season for many of our guys, so we really wanted to go out and demonstrate our depth at this invitational,” McCrory said. “We had excellent race conditions and excellent weather, so we knew we were in for some solid times.”
The Jumbos’ pack running strategy once again did not fail them, as they posted a solid 47-second 1-5 split. In the end, this was the tightest split on the day from any of the 21 teams in the race.
“Once again, we tried to run as a pack and stick together,” McCrory said. “Sam [Garfield] and I worked together from start to finish. We felt strong the entire race, and now we feel like we’re ready for the postseason.”
This race was also the final effort of the season by a few Jumbo harriers, including Black and freshman Mike Coughran (114th, 27:48).
“Mitch really stepped up and surprised everyone at the meet,” McCrory said. “He is known for his speed as an 800 meter runner, but he showed his talent and range today in his first ever ‘8k’ race. Mike [Coughran] also ran a nice PR [personal record], so that was a nice last effort for him as well.”
“We rested our top 12 today for NESCACs in 2 weeks,” senior tri-captain Ben Wallis, who did not run in the meet, said. “We have been getting in some quality speed work because most of our base work at this point is complete.”
Rather than race in the meet, the top 12 Jumbos, who will all be racing at the NESCAC meet on Nov. 2, instead ran a workout on the course.
“Recently, we have been doing shorter but faster workouts.” Wallis said. “With shorter but quicker intervals, we can sharpen our speed just in time for the postseason.”
Wallis also pointed out that their most recent workouts have been increasing their threshold for comfort while racing.
“By increasing our speed, we have been getting much more comfortable with race pace.” Wallis said. “Interval workouts with high quality fartleks [alternating fast/slow running repetitions] will be key for us.”
As for the Jumbos who raced on the day, Wallis explained that the curtain hasn’t closed on their season just yet.
“Our top two guys from today [McCrory and Garfield] will be running at the ECAC [Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference] meet in a few weeks, along with our numbers eight through 12 runners, who will be running at NESCACs,” Wallis said. “The guys that are finished racing will still continue to train with us and will serve as alternates in case anything happens, so we’re comfortable saying we have a solid group of guys who can step up if anything goes wrong.”
After a week off, the Jumbos will be back at Harkness Memorial State Park to defend their NESCAC title.