Tartan cross country teams rebuild on the run at Dickinson Invitational
This Saturday?s cross-country meet at Dickinson College was not the marquee race of the fall season; that would be the UAA conference championships October 28 at CMU. Nonetheless, the CMU men?s second-place overall finish bodes well for a team looking to replace several runners from the group that qualified for last year?s NCAA Division III national championships.
The Tartans were led by senior All-American Dana Irrer?s second-place finish in the 4K race. He was followed by fellow captain Nick End, who finished fourth and Mike Bridenbaugh who placed 22nd in the race.The combination of these three was enough to give the team the second-best team in the invitational?s first event.
In the meet?s 8K race, first-year Breck Fresen was CMU?s top finisher; he finished 17th with a time of 27:16.29.
Irrer called the race an important tune-up for the bigger events to come later this fall. ?Everyone was a little off I think, but we got a competitive race in against some good teams, which we needed.?
The meet was unusual for a set-up that divided the racers into two fields, the 8K and the 4K, the latter a race rarely run in competition. In contrast, most collegiate races are longer than the standard high school 5K. The Tartans sent their veteran runners into the 4K race since they were familiar with the course from past years at the invitational.
Still, the rapid pace and the crowded running lanes provided a challenging combination for CMU runners used to the slower, more open setup of the 8K. As Irrer put it, ?We were all just surprised how fast it was. We hoped to hang back, but it was so busy it was hard to get through once we fell behind. But, if I got the kick I should have at the end I think I could?ve come out [first].?
On the women?s side, senior Jocelyn Sikora led the team with a time of 23:29.44 that gave her 11th place in the 6K.
K.J. Helmsetter and Carrie Mallozzi followed her in 23rd and 49th place, respectively. Overall, the women finished sixth in the 6K, the only event in which they had enough runners to qualify.
For the men, the focus now turns to preparation for the Carnegie Mellon Invitational on October 9 and then the UAA championships later in the month ? races the team will now enter with satisfactory experience.
As sophomore Doug Fricker says, ?I think now we are ready to move on and look at the bigger meets. This [weekend?s race] was great to get us back into the grind; now we have to look towards regionals.?