The Tufts cross country program competed in NESCAC championships held in Amherst, Mass. this weekend. In a field of 11 teams, the women’s team finished sixth and the men were third in the best finish for the men’s team since 2016.
The men were led by junior captain Ivan Appleton who finished second overall in the 8K race with a time of 25:07.10, followed by sophomore Calvin Cummings in 16th place at 25:53.00. Senior Walter Wagude and sophomore Quinn Hampson also made the top 20 to contribute to the third place finish overall.
On the women’s side, graduate student Meghan Davis led the Jumbos with a time of 22:54.60 in the 6K, finishing in 16th place. Second for Tufts, junior captain Carly Rinko was 29th overall in 23:28.30, followed by sophomore Lexi Dean with a time of 23:35.20 for 35th place.
The men’s team came into the conference race with a good understanding of how they have raced against these opponents during the regular season. Cummings said that Tufts specifically had its eyes on Middlebury and Amherst.
“We had the goal of beating both Amherst and Middlebury and we ended up right in between the two of them, which is about where we want it to be,” Cummings said.
The weekend was marked by unseasonably warm temperatures, reaching a high of 82 F in Amherst with races occurring during the heat of the day, presenting an additional challenge for runners.
Cummings said the heat added to the physical and mental effort of racing.
“It was definitely tougher than usual,” he said. “Running in the heat makes it a lot tougher mentally. Your body wants to shut down earlier but it just means you have to fight more.”
Rinko and the women’s team also were prepared to battle the heat.
“We had great energy within the group,” Rinko said.
Despite strongly competitive attitudes, the heat ultimately presented a challenge physically.
“This weekend … could have gone a little better. It also could have gone worse,” Rinko said. “It was not our typical climate for an October cross country meet.”
Cummings is proud of the men’s team finish.
“This course is one of, if not the hardest, courses that we ran on this year,” he said. “Having our guys run this course in these conditions and still come away with a place that we’re happy with, I thought really spoke to the level that our team is competing at right now.”
He praised Appleton’s leadership on the course.
“Seeing [Appleton] finish second was super inspiring,” Cummings said. “That was the highest placed individual finish of a Tufts athlete at [the NESCAC Championship] since 2016, which was huge.”
On the women’s side, the team was also buoyed by the attitude of upperclassmen leaders. Rinko was impressed by the role that Davis and senior captain Rose Kitz played.
“[Kitz] wanted to give it her all … and I think it was really inspirational for the rest of the team to see that,” Rinko said. “This season [Davis has] been super valuable. … [She] adds experience and a lot of positive reinforcement.”
While reflecting on their achievements at NESCACs, the cross country program is already looking to its next race at the NCAA Division III East Regional championships on Nov. 11. The top seven runners from each team will compete at this event.
“It’s nice to have these two whole weeks to train and … get ready for regionals,” Cummings said. “We’re really just looking to have another good day at regionals and run well again, and put us in a spot that solidifies our bid at Nationals.”