SCHMECKPEPER'S 13TH PLACE IN NEICAAA CHAMPIONSHIP ONE OF FEW HIGHLIGHTS FOR ENGINEERS
October 10, 2003
While the race meant little in the big scheme of things this season, Coach Halston Taylor nevertheless expected his team to do much better than their 17th place in this weekend's NEICAAA Championship at Franklin Park. This race is essentially the only race in the season that brings together the best teams in all three divisions in New England and is very comparable to the NCAA Division III Championships at the end of the season. The engineers seemed mentally unprepared for the most part during the warm, dusty afternoon.
Junior, Ben Schmeckpeper, was affected by the fast early pace and the poor conditions, but did not let it hinder his overall performance. Moving up deliberately through the pack of lead runers, Schmeckpeper constantly gained ground throughout the race, eventually sprinting to a 13th place finish with a time of 24:56. The Wisconsin native was the first Division III finisher.
MIT's second group, hoping to finsih between :50 and 1:20 of Schmeckpeper, fell apart early in the race. Freshman, Kevin Brulois, continued to shine as he let nothing bother him en route to a 78th place personal best of 26:04. Not faring so well were the veterans of his group, Brian Anderson, John Brewer and Eric Khatchadourian. Normally very dependable when they pace themselves well early, this was not the case in this race.
Running with the top seven for the first time, Chris Fidkowski and Ian Driver ran superb races to help Tech from finishing even worse than 17th. Fidkowski ran his plan to perfection as he showed after the race by holding out his hand with his mile split goals written on the back. Fidkowski's time of 26:45 was a 45 second personal best and placed him 5th on the team. Driver also ran a perfect plan except for a short lack of focus during mile two where he lost a few seconds. Perhaps the best race of the day was turned in during the sub-varsity race by freshman Spencer Dudley. Dudley placed 26th with a 26:53, a 50 second PR to lead all MIT finishers in that race.
Despite such a poor team effort, the Engineers still finished 5th among Division III teams, one place out of the top four that will qualify for nationals in the regional qualifier on November 15. Next Saturday, MIT travels to the regional course at Twin Brook recreation area in southern Maine with hopes of getting their act together and putting themselves in position to be one of the top four teams at the end of the season.