Men’s cross country finishes eighth at NESCAC Championship

From left to right, junior Dalton Tanner, sophomore Joseph Harmon and senior Taylor Wurts race in a tight pack at the Pineland Farms Super XC Shootout on Sept. 15, 2018. Madeleine Oliver / Tufts Cross Country

The Tufts men’s cross country team placed eighth out of 11 teams at the NESCAC Championship on Saturday, hosted by Williams at Mount Greylock High School in Williamstown, Mass.

Williams dominated the race, with seven runners finishing in the top 11 overall. With a successive score of 22 points, Williams far outmatched Amherst, who finished as runner-up with a total of 97 points. Tufts finished six places behind Amherst with a total of 183 points, only four points behind Trinity. The only teams to finish behind Tufts were Bowdoin, Hamilton and Wesleyan, the latter of the two who trailed Tufts by over 50 points.

The top runner in the race was Williams’ Aiden Ryan, who finished 14.5 seconds ahead of the runner-up with a time of 25:27.3. For reference, Ryan’s time was equivalent to an average mile pace of 5:08.

In the 8k race, the Jumbos were led by sophomore Sam Gatti, who finished in 15th place out of the 145 runners with a time of 26:18.6 and an average mile pace of 5:18. First-year Evan Ensslin (43rd), sophomore Neerav Gade (45th) and junior Patrick Nero (46th) all finished in the top 50 behind Gatti for the Jumbos. 

One key factor affecting the race on Saturday was the tough 8k course, according to Gatti.

“Williams has a very challenging course,” Gatti said. “It was definitely the most challenging course of the year so far. It’s very hilly, with one huge hill we have to go over twice. The last mile starts right on that hill, and it is a big challenge to get up and over that especially toward the end of the race.”

Despite the challenging course, Gatti was able to run a very successful race. He commented on his success and training in preparation for the race.

“This was the best race of my college career to date,” Gatti said. “Coming off an injury at the start of the season, my fitness was not where it should have been. Now that I have had a full season of training I was able to get into the shape I wanted to be in at the start of the season. This definitely allowed for a better race.”

Gatti also explained that supporters of the team at the race helped motivate the runners who did not run in the race.

“Shoutout to all the people who weren’t running at NESCAC but came to cheer us on,” Gatti said. “It was really special to have them there, and it was really great to see everyone supporting us like that. They were cheering at points in the race we really struggled with. It was a really big motivator.”

Looking ahead, the Jumbos’ next race will take place at the NCAA Regional Championship on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 11 a.m. Bowdoin will host the race in Brunswick, Maine, at the Pickard Field Cross Country Course. 

Ensslin spoke on what Tufts hopes to improve on heading into the regional championship.

“We need to be mentally ready to run and work with everyone else on the team,” Ensslin said. “We need to bring it all together. We are definitely a team that has the potential to make nationals. We have put in the training to run at a national-caliber level. We just need to execute.”