Men’s cross country places second at Bates Invitational

Then-Sophomore Luke O'Connor competes with the men's cross country team at nationals in Mason, OH on November 22nd, 2014, where he placed 80th. (Courtesy Alyssa Rivas)

Men’s cross country finished second out of four teams on Saturday at the Bates Invitational at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine. Tufts finished with 171 points, behind Bates’ 115 points but ahead of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s (WPI) 196 and Southern Maine’s 397.

Senior co-captains Tim Nichols and Luke O’Connor led Tufts with first and second place finishes respectively. Nichols ran a blistering 25:11.9 while O’Connor finished 23 seconds later in 25:34.9. WPI senior co-captain Austin Scott placed third in 26:11.7, almost a full minute after Nichols’ finish.

“Tim and Luke are always exceptional, but Tim in particular today was just four seconds off the course record, which was set by a former NCAA champion at a point much later in the season,” assistant coach Michael Schmidt said.

Sophomore Dylan Jones finished third for Tufts and 11th overall in 26:50.2.

“Tim and Luke killed it,” Jones said. “They went out really strong and were able to keep an impressive pace the entire time.”

Sophomores Andrew Doherty Munro and James Gregoire finished in 14th and 18th respectively. Despite finishing three places behind Jones, Munro’s time was only 4.5 seconds slower at 26:54.7. Gregoire finished in the middle of a pack of five runners who all finished within two seconds of each other.

Despite individual Jumbos racing well, many on the team were not satisfied with the team’s performance.

“We know we can do a better job as a team, but it is early in the season so there is a lot of time for us to improve and be the squad we know we can be,” Jones said. “The results are not as important yet, so this race served as a good indicator of where we currently are.”

Sophomore Christian Swenson was unperturbed by the final result, electing to take the long-view of the season.

“We can’t be too disappointed,” Swenson said. “We are training hard and are more concerned about some of the meets later in the season and are happy with where we are at right now.”

Despite the second-place finish, the coaching staff is confident that this year’s young squad will improve throughout the season.

“I am satisfied with the effort as a first-race rust buster, but expect most, if not all of the Jumbos to come into stronger racing over the next couple weeks,” Schmidt said. “We have lost our first race for the past couple [of] years now, so the chip on their shoulder should help them be extra hungry and motivated for the next couple meets.”

The conditions of the race were fair and the temperature settled around 75 degrees. Although the weather was nice, the course itself was challenging.

“The course is an honest New England one with rolling hills and uneven terrain, much like we will face later on at Williams and Colby,” Schmidt said.

“It’s a really tough course,” Jones said. “The turns are reminiscent of Rainbow Road [from Mario Kart]. You always felt like if you turn too tightly you will fall off the edge of the course.”

The Jumbos’ next meet is the Purple Valley Classic at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. next Saturday.