Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Written by Julie Fox

MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY STRONG HEADING INTO CHAMPIONSHIPS

MEDFORD -- The Tufts University Men's Cross Country team finished first in the Twin Brook Invitational hosted by Southern Maine this past Saturday (Oct. 18), continuing their string of fine showings this season.  The team, currently ranked #9 in the nation, finished with 37 points in the 12-team event, with MIT coming in second with 64 points.  New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) rival Connecticut College came in third with 93 points.

Freshman Josh Kennedy (Guilford, CT) was the top finisher for the Jumbos, finishing the 8,000 meter course in 27 minutes, 2.2 seconds.  He finished second overall, behind Stan Pyle of Wheaton College who completed the course in 26:22.5.  Sophomore Kyle Doran (North Attleborough, MA) finished fifth overall and second for Tufts in 27:12.2, and junior Brian McNamara (Saratoga Springs, NY) was next for the Jumbos and seventh overall with a time of 27:14.2.  Rounding out the scorers for Tufts was senior Nate Brigham (Penacook, NH) who finished in tenth place overall (27:20.8) and junior Michael Don (Clayton, MO) who finished 13th overall (27:24.8). 

These five runners are joined by sophomore Matt Lacey (Amherst, MA), classmate Neil Orfield (Burnsville, MN), and senior co-captain Peter Bromka (Portland, OR) to form the core group of runners who have consistently scored for the Jumbos this season.  Brigham, Kennedy, Doran, Don, and Lacey were the five scorers for the Jumbos at the New England Championships on October 10, where the team finished ninth out of 47 teams and first among Division III schools.  That race was especially gratifying as it marked the first time Tufts had beaten Keene State University, the only New England team ranked ahead of them in the October 7th poll.  After getting the best of the Owls at the New England Championships the Jumbos vaulted up to their current ranking of #9, while Keene State dropped to #10.

Head Coach Connie Putnam's team started the season off by finishing second in four straight meets.  In their season opening meet on September 6, the Hayseed Classic hosted by the Jumbos, the team finished second only to Division II Bentley College.  The next week the Jumbos competed in the Connecticut College Invitational, finishing second to the College of New Jersey, currently ranked #12 in the country.  After finishing second to NESCAC rival Amherst College in the UMass Dartmouth-Shriners Invitational on September 20, Tufts hosted the Jumbo Invitational on September 27 and came in second to Keene State.  The Jumbos then rested their top runners during the Keene State Invitational on October 4 in preparation for the New England Championships.

The Jumbos will have an off-week this weekend in preparation for the championship season, which starts November 1 with the NESCAC Championships at Middlebury.  Tufts hosts the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships the next weekend (November 8), and then the NCAA New England Championships will be held at Southern Maine on November 15.  The Jumbos will look to advance to the NCAA National Championship Race, which will be held at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana on November 22.  Last season marked the first season since 1997 that the whole team failed to advance to the National Championship race, a fact that will certainly motivate the team further.

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