September 8, 2007

Despite the upper 80 degree temperatures and extreme humidity, the Men's and Women's Cross Country teams exercised caution as well as their bodies to come away with victories in the Smith College Invitational. The women came from behind to win with a score of 37 points led by the 1-2 finish of Nicole Bucala and Maria Monks, crossing the line in a virtual tie. Wellesley College followed with 80 points, Connecticut College with 94, RPI with 107, host Smith College with 127, Coast Guard with 145, Mount Holyoke with 212, Clark with 230, WPI with 247, Babson with 272, Lesley with 325 and Lasell with 338. Jake Ruzevick led the men to victory with 26 points, Coast Guard with 35 points, WPI with 89, RPI with 94, UMass Dartmouth with 149, Clark with 184, Lasell with 220 and Babson College with 221.

The women started things off with Monks and Bucala leading the race from the first turn, coming through the mile at 6:11, an ambitious pace given the heat index. The rest of the MIT pack was well off the pace, coming through the mile in 6:40. Wellesley, Smith, Coast Guard and RPI teams were all just off the leaders, well ahead of MIT's trail pack. By mile two, Jacqui Wentz, Katy Gordon and Elizabeth Finn had made up significant ground on the other teams, taking a small lead. In the third mile, Jennifer Doyle made up ground, passing Finn and nearly catching Gordon who was slowing down due to dehydration and severe blisters. When all was said and done, Wentz had moved up to ninth place, Gordon 12th, Doyle 13th, Finn 14th and Elizabeth Ohrt 16th to easily outscore the competition.

On the men's side of the ledger, Ruzevick and Yermie Cohen were content to stay behind the leaders through the first mile but did not count on a 5:38 first mile. MIT, resting their 3-8 runners, relied on the third group to win the meet for the team. Unaccustomed to being counted on so heavily, the group settled in too far back, allowing at least 80 runners to get ahead by the mile mark, which was 5:59 at that part of the pack. Mile two and three were entirely different stories as a combination of the front runners slowing down and MIT's back group speeding up the gap closed significantly. At the end of four miles Ruzevick had taken control of the race, but Cohen, experiencing stomach problems, was falling back, although still in second place. Coast Guard was just ahead of MIT at each position three through six. Mile five sealed the deal for Tech as MIT runners continued to move up and the others continued to fade. Ruzevick won easily in 26:58 while Cohen faded to third. Paul Welle moved up to sixth, Hemagiri Arumugam seventh and Bill Phipps ninth to round out the scoring runners.

Next week MIT travels to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota to race on the NCAA Championship course in the St. Olaf Invitational. Both the men and women will run their top eight runners for the first time this season.