Men’s cross country finished third at the 2002 Tufts Invitational on Saturday, which was held at the “farm course” at the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton. Williams (62) ended up in third place, a slim five points out of first place behind winner Amherst (57) and one point shy of the silver which went to host Tufts (61).
Captain Karl Remsen ’03 and fellow senior Andy Golden ’03 combined in a runaway one-two punch. Remsen took the lead from Tufts’ Nate Brigham after three miles, and Golden followed suit a few minutes later at mile four. Remsen crossed the line in 26:10.94 and Golden in 26:29.60, holding off Brigham at 26:33.29.
“I’m more confident than I was two years ago at this point in the season,” Golden said. “And I was impressed by our three freshmen up front â€“ they’re already critical to the depth of this team.”
Indeed, the freshman trio of Bryan Dragon ’06, Neal Holtshulte ’06 and Brendan Dougherty ’06 comprised the rest of the Ephs’ scoring five, rolling through the first mile in a comfortable 5:45 split before using the course’s looping, open downhills to accelerate through the second and fourth miles.
“Bryan, Brendan and I pulled away and picked up a lot of places toward the end,” Holtshulte said. “We tried to follow Pete’s race strategy and succeeded â€“ I’m excited about more races at the 8k distance.”
“Our plan, especially for the first-year guys, was to relax in the first and third miles and really work the second and fourth miles â€“ try to flow downhill and make up time on those faster sections,” Head Coach Peter Farwell said. “They ran pretty well as a pack, helping each other along. It was a great debut for them.”
Dragon and Holtshulte broke into the top 20, nailing down 15th and 18th in 27:25.83 and 27:33.88, respectively. Dougherty took 27th in 27:50.36. Sam VanVolkenburgh ’05 (28:00.36), who helped pace the frosh through four miles, picked up Matt Winkler ’04 (28:00.97) in the closing meters of the race, and the two closed out Williams’ top seven at 31st and 32nd.
Adrian Martinez ’06 was next into the chute, collecting 48th in 28:31.28. Eli Lazarus ’04 followed in 59th in 29:13.48, with Eric Daub ’04 (63rd, 29:24.96) and Thomas Brennen ’06 (65th, 29:34.88) trailing him in hot in pursuit.
“It’s a long time to be racing,” Brennen said, who during the track season specializes in the 800 meters. “I’ll get used to it, but still â€“ you’re out there for a while.”
Fifty seconds later, Matt Ressenger ’05 and Dan Runcie ’05 clipped down the final straight for 70th in 30:25.82 and 71st in 30:27.95, respectively. Sean O’Brien ’05 came in 77th in 31:24.52, a new personal best. On the bus ride home, however, captains awarded Runcie with the team’s mascot T. Bear for the week in recognition of his truly breakthrough race.
“I knew I could do it,” Runcie said later, “especially because I felt comfortable for most of the race. Getting the Bear sort of validates my training â€“ and training through the injuries I’ve had until recently. Everything so far has been an improvement over last year.
“I’ll run with Ressenger next time, and we can work together, push each other. It worked well in the last mile today.”
Williams continues to rotate veteran members of its front seven out of its weekly starting lineups. Matt Winkler stayed out of uniform at the Sept. 14 Purple Valley Classic; on Saturday, it was captain Chris Garvin’s ’03 and Shamus Brady’s ’04 turn to leave their spikes at home and cheer on the crew.
“I feel good and I’m confident about racing this fall, but I didn’t want to hammer three 8k’s in a row at the beginning of the season,” Garvin said. “Next week we have our alumni meet, which is really informal and fun. After that we head to Div. I New Englands at Franklin Park, and I think almost everybody will race there.”
On Nov. 2, Tufts will host the 2002 NESCAC Championships on the Grafton course, bringing together the top 12 runners from each team in the conference to test their legs near season’s end.
November, however, is still weeks away, and the fall schedule is just winding up. Next week the Ephs will welcome back a long list of distinguished harrier alumni for the 2002 Aluminum Bowl at Mt. Greylock High School, the team’s home course.
For the first time in three years T. Bear will be in attendance to greet his teammates from years past, most of whom have not seen him since they graduated.
“We’ve been running hard the last two weeks,” Golden said. “Next week will be a good mental break. I’ve heard that a lot of alums plan to come up this year, and it’ll be a fun weekend with them. Then we can buckle down again for Franklin Park.”