Cross country men finish 12th at NCAAs, Wobb competes for women

The Carnegie Mellon men’s cross country team traveled to Cleveland’s Highland Park Golf Course this past Saturday to compete at the NCAA Division III Championships. Sophomore Matt Jacob led the way for the Tartans to a 12th place finish at the meet, which was hosted by Baldwin-Wallace College. First-year Emily Wobb competed at NCAAs, serving as the sole representative of the women’s team.

The Tartans came into the meet looking to improve on their 13th place performance in 2008. This looked to be quite a challenge, as that Tartans team was led by ’09 graduate Brian Harvey’s ninth-place individual finish. But as junior J.P. Allera had said about the current team’s strength after they swept the Carnegie Mellon Invite, “We don’t have any guys really far up [in the rankings], but ... our spread was really low.” That low spread proved to be the difference this year, as the team managed to improve their team standing by one place despite their highest individual finish being 61st place.

That performance belonged to Jacobs, who crossed the finish line in 26:29.0, only 2.6 seconds ahead of junior Dan Addis, who came in 67th. Allera was right behind them, finishing in 26:34.1 for 73rd overall. Senior captain Dario Donatelli finished next for the Tartans, with a time of 27:03.3. The closeness of the group demonstrated exactly what Allera had talked about; last year, the Tartans’ top four finishes were ninth (Harvey), 54th (Donatelli), 145th (Breck Fresen ’09) and 168th (Addis).

Rounding out the field for the Tartans in Cleveland, junior Nate Bussiere crossed 5.5 seconds behind Donatelli, senior Chris Rizzo finished in 28:09.8, and junior Justin Kurp crossed six places later in 28:24.0.

“There were a few factors that led to the team’s higher finish this year; however, the main reason was that we were much closer as a team and were able to put together good races on the same day,” Donatelli said. “Last year, the team had a lot of potential but ... did not perform up to potential at nationals, but this year we had a much better performance on that day.

“I do feel that we accomplished what we set out to do. The goal was to finish better than last year, and we were able to.... I have high hopes for the team next year as they are only losing two runners and have a lot of experience, so they are in good shape for the future.”

Wobb’s participation in the meet was a result of her standout first year. She led the way for the Tartans at every meet en route to the championships, earning an at-large bid to compete after finishing seventh at last weekend’s Mideast Regional at Muhlenberg. Wobb finished 120th on Saturday, completing the race in 23:47.1.

Wobb and the rest of the women’s cross country team will look to build off their performances this year as they head into 2010. The men’s team also will prepare to compete next fall.