Date: Monday, November 15, 1999


MEDFORD – The Tufts University men's and women's cross country teams will run at the 1999 NCAA Division III Championship Races held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on Saturday (Nov. 20). The women's race begins at 11 am, followed by the men's race at noon.

Head coach Connie Putnam's men's program will make it's third trip to Nationals in the last four years after placing second at the NCAA New England Region Race on Saturday (Nov. 13) at UMass-Dartmouth. Head coach Branwen Smith-King's women's program earned its first National Championship Race berth with an extraordinary third-place at the New England Region Championship.

The men head to Wisconsin looking to improve upon last year's 13th place finish. The Jumbos placed seventh at the 1996 Nationals. With the top five teams at the New England Championship Race qualifying for Nationals, Tufts edged rival Williams for second place, but was far behind first-place Keene State. Leading the way once again for the Jumbos was senior Matt Lyons (Wakefield, MA). He was sixth overall with a 24:38.63 finish, the eighth time this year he has fronted the Tufts effort and the best-ever time at Tufts over five miles.

The depth of the Tufts line-up was at work with the next four finishers placing in spots 15 through 30. Senior Steve Kaye (Upper Saddle River, NJ) was 15th (25:09.22), junior David Patterson (Shutesbury, MA) was 25th (25:29.88), senior Peter Rodrigues (Weatogue, CT) was 26th (25:34.83) and freshman Jason Mann (Rosemont, PA) was 30th (25:39.03). Those five will be joined by sophomores J.R. Cruz (Centereach, NY) and Ben Smith (Noank, CT) in Wisconsin. Lyons, Patterson, Smith, Kaye and Rodrigues have Nationals Race experience from last year.

The women, sixth at their own conference (NESCAC) race on October 30, stunned Amherst, Colby and Brandeis by taking the third and final Nationals berth at the New England Championship Race along with Middlebury and Williams. Senior Cindy Manning (Valparaiso, IN) led the Jumbos by finishing fifth overall with a 17:33 time. Perhaps the biggest boost to the team's effort was the 10th-place finish ran by senior Caitlin Murphy (Norwell, MA) with an 18:04 time.

Junior Leslie Crofton (Somerset, MA) was also in the top 20 at 18th with an 18:19 finish. Also scoring for the Jumbos was junior Jennifer Edelmann (Fairfield, CT) in 47th (19:02) and sophomore Molly Hobey (East Lansing, MI) in 53rd (19:13). Those five will be joined at Nationals by senior Tiffany Davis (Ann Arbor, MI) and sophomore Heather Ballantyne (Winchester, MA).

Manning, who qualified for Nationals individually in 1997 and finished 49th, is the only Jumbo with prior Nationals Race experience. That's not a problem, said Smith-King, who has the team aiming for a top 16 finish that would earn another berth for the New England region in next year's Nationals.