Jumbos finish in 11th place at All-New Englands

Junior Luke O'Connor focuses on catching the runner in front of him on Nov. 22, 2014. Courtesy Alyssa Rivas

The Tufts men’s cross-country team continued its solid season with a strong display in Saturday’s All-New England Championship at Franklin Park in Boston. The team finished in 11th place out of 38 schools in the varsity race, competing against runners from a mix of Div. I and Div. III schools. The Jumbos finished in eighth place out of 20 schools in the junior-varsity race. Both races were run on an 8000-meter course.

Tufts scored 312 points in the varsity race. Boston University came in first place, Amherst came in second place and the University of Maine finished third with 143, 176 and 199 points, respectively. Points are tallied by adding the places of the top five runners from each school. The Jumbos emerged third out of all Div. III schools, the first two being MIT and Amherst, in arguably the biggest race of the season for the team.

Junior Luke O’Connor led the seven Jumbos in the varsity race, finishing in a brisk time of 24:45.95 for sixth place. O’Connor’s time was the fifth-fastest ever for a Jumbo at Franklin Park. 

“Luke had one of the best races he has ever had,” first-year Christian Swenson said. “He got second among Div. III athletes. He’s obviously poised for a fantastic season.”

“Luke ran insanely fast,” first-year teammate Dylan Jones said. “One of the fastest times I’ve seen someone run for a race that long,” first-year teammate Dylan Jones said.

O’Connor was followed by classmate Tim Nichols, who finished in 25:11.67, good for 15th place. Then came seniors James Traester (82nd place) and Michael Curley (106th place) with times of 25:52.63 and 26:05.73, respectively. Swenson rounded out the scoring for the Jumbos, placing 113th with a time of 26:08.56

“[Nichols] ran fantastic,” Swenson said. “I don’t think he was too happy with how he ran the first meet, so he was really excited to run in this meet … The team’s strategy was just to go out quick and it was a lot of fun for a lot of us to set personal records in this race.”

In the junior varsity race, Boston College came in first place with 35 points. Amherst came in second and Northeastern came in third with 70 and 85 points, respectively, while Tufts finished with 199 points, good for eighth place.

The Jumbos were led by senior Mitchell Black, who ran an impressive 26:21.61 for 28th place out of 236 participants. He was followed by sophomore Samuel Little, who completed the race in 26:27.14, finishing in 37th place. First-year Matthew McDermott came in third for the Jumbos, finishing in 26:30.29 and 42nd place overall.

“This was [Black]’s first big race of the season, so this was essentially his first real race, and it was great because he ran really well,” Jones said. “Our strategy was just to play it appropriately. Go out at an appropriate pace, and if you think you’re getting winded too early, slow it down.”

This race was different for the junior varsity circuit; in the last meet, the team ran a shorter race of 5,000 meters.

“We usually run [8000-meter] races, so it was nice to return to normalcy,” Jones said. “Franklin Park is a great place to set some personal records and it was great to see everyone do so well. A lot of kids ran great races, and at least five kids PRed by over 30 seconds, so that was awesome.”

The next race for the men’s cross-country team is this Saturday, Oct. 17 at the Connecticut College Invitational.