Feldman Leads Team With 4th Place Effort

November 17, 2001

Dan Feldman capped a great MIT cross country career with an outstanding effort at the NCAA Division III National Cross Country Championships held at Highland Springs Golf Course by host Augustana College. Dan ran a near perfect race to finish 4th in a time of 24:23 on an unseasonably warm day that saw temperatures near 70 degrees. Dan's time was the best of his career and earned him his first All America award.

The remainder of the MIT team did not fair so well. Starting off in reasonable position at the first mile, they never moved through the crowd, which has been their trademark and served them so well this season. While Dan came through the mile in 4:45 as he was just off the lead pack, MIT 2 through 6 runners were all positioned between 4:50 and 4:55, putting them between 60th and 120th--not great, but certainly not too bad.

A little into the 3rd mile, Sean Nolan had moved into the top 30 the way he usually does, Albert Liu, Sean Montgomery, Ben Schmeckpeper and Mark Strauss fell back to between 140th and 180th, and the race to place among the top 10 teams was essentially over for MIT. While Feldman forged ahead during the 4th mile, running a 5:01 mile, Nolan dropped :20 and faded over 20 places.

The last mile, which should be the fastest mile given that it finished downhill and well below the elevation of the 4 mile mark, was not the case for most of the engineers. Feldman ran a 4:39 final mile but the best the other Engineers could muster was a 5:02 by All America 800 runner, Sean Montgomery.

The normal delta for MIT's top 5 has consistently been within 1:15 at the end of this season. The normal deltas per man would have placed the team 4th - 5th in the team competition. In part, this was due to the extraordinary run by Feldman, but nevertheless, it did not seem as though the mental effort was there by the remainder of the team.

Coach Halston Taylor expressed how proud he was of his team for a very successful season. "We had a great year, winning the UMass Dartmouth Invitational, the NEWMAC Championship and placing 3rd in the New England Division III Championship were great displays of what this team can do. Today is what can happen when runners think too much during a race and doubts enter their mind--both are like viruses to a runner and will overwhelm anyone."

New England will lose a formula team, dropping the region to 4, in next year's qualifying race due to MIT and Tufts finishing out of the top 16 teams. The reduction of one team combined with MIT losing 3 of their top 7 runners will make it very difficult for the Engineers to return to nationals next year. However, Tech lost 3 of their top 7 runners last year and no one thought they would make if as far as they did this year. We'll see.