Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Tufts cross country finds success at both DIII Pre-Nationals, NEICAAA Champs

Cross country divides and conquers at Pre-Nationals Invitation, Franklin Park.

luke brennan xc cropped

Sophomore Luke Brennan is pictured at the Codfish Bowl on Sept. 23.

In a busy weekend for the Tufts cross country program, the men’s and women’s teams competed at two different meets on Saturday, sending team members to the NCAA Division III Pre-Nationals Invitational in Pennsylvania and the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association Championship in Boston. In a field of nearly 40 teams, the women’s team achieved 13th place and the men came in 10th overall at Pre-Nationals. Back in Boston, the women’s team was 11th at the NEICAAA Championship while the men’s team placed fifth. 

The two meets were the largest of the season so far for the runners. Sophomore Grace Ogden thinks the size of the field was important for the team.

“Most of our races have been on the smaller scale. And there were over 400 people in just the women’s race,” she said. “We have such a young team. There’s only two upperclassmen in our top 10. It was really a great learning experience to focus on racing and thinking about points.”

Graduate student Meghan Davis led the Jumbos at the invitational with a timing of 22:55.2 in the 6K race for 45th place overall. Junior Carly Rinko and sophomore Elizabeth Donahue were close behind, coming in at 23:15.9 and 23:25.1 respectively.

Sophomore Luke Brennan also found value in Pre-Nationals to help prepare the team for their postseason ambitions. The NCAA Division III Championship meet will be held on the same course.

“It was the biggest race that we had been in so far this season. I would say it was comparable probably to nationals last year,” he said. “It was good experience for some of the newer guys.”

Junior Ivan Appleton provided the top time from the Jumbos, just as he did at their last competition, with a time of 25:20.0 in the 8K race for 18th overall. Senior Walter Wagude came in at 25:45.3 for 45th place; Brennan was close behind at 25:57.3 in 65th. The gap between Wagude and Brennan speaks to the density of the field, but the Jumbos did not feel phased by the size of the race.

“[The invitational is] not so different, I would say, from a normal race. It’s just you have a lot more people in front of you, and a lot more people behind you,” Brennan said.

The NEICAAA meet was also densely populated. Due to weather, both the championship and open race were combined, resulting in nearly 200 runners each in the women’s 5K race and men’s 8K race.

Tufts’ experience at Franklin Park after the Codfish Bowl earlier in the season showed in their comfort on the course.

Sophomore Julia Dolce led the Jumbos with a 19:55.7 in the women’s 5K race, a best time in the 5K race for Dolce and 50th place. The women’s team had their next four finishers close together, an example of successful racing in groups or “packs”. On the men’s side, junior Martin Horne put down a time of 26:39.7 in the 8K race for 28th place. The men’s team also showed great success in racing together with finishers in 30th, 33rd and 35th.

Senior Jackson O’Toole saw NEICAAAs as an opportunity to prove the depth of the team.

“We had our top 10 guys down at Pre-Nationals,” he said. “We still get to show that Tufts is a really deep team and … we have all these guys who are still running fast.”

O’Toole also found the separation of the team to be a new challenge; the team hasn’t entered geographically separated meets like this before.

“This is definitely a first … as far as I can remember, of splitting the team up to completely different states,” O’Toole said.

Tufts cross country hasn’t competed in the Pre-Nationals Invitational in recent years as it has been held beyond traveling distance from Medford. However, the meet provides important opportunities to compete against teams from outside of the New England region. For example, the winning women’s team, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, came from California. This comparison between regions matters in seeding teams for national competition.

“When it comes to postseason, like which teams get to go to nationals, they look at how you’ve done against other teams outside of your region earlier in the season,” Ogden said

Tufts cross country looks to continue their momentum at Connecticut College on Friday This represents their last opportunity to compete against out-of-region teams before the postseason begins.