Tartan cross country ends season at NCAA championship
The Carnegie Mellon men’s cross country team finished off an impressive season on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the NCAA Division III Men’s Cross Country Championships. The Tartan runners went on the road to Louisville, Kentucky, where they traversed E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park. Even though the Tartans had strong finishes in every regular season event, they weren’t able to pull it together for the final competition. That said, the Tartan runners were up against the best competition in the nation and they put up a good fight. A total of 278 runners competed in the meet, all together representing 32 schools. The Tartans earned 480 points as a team, which was enough to earn them the 20th spot in the final standings. North Central University took the team championship with 60 points.
The shining beacon of light for the Tartans in an otherwise disappointing result was sophomore William Mitchell, who had the best individual performance of the team. He completed the grueling 8k course with a time of 25:15.1 and finished in 72nd place overall. This was a significant improvement over last year’s national championships where he placed 135th. Mitchell has had a breakout season, with nine top ten finishes, never ending a race lower than 26th place until this final competition.
The second runner to cross the finish line was junior Ryan Auld, a veteran of the team. Auld finished the race in 25:33.3, and even though he was only 20 seconds behind his teammate Mitchell, he had to settle for 126th place. Auld really came into his own the season, finding two first place finishes early in the season, while finding himself higher than 20th place only four times over the course of the entire season. Expectations were high for Auld coming into the competition as they were for everyone on the Tartan squad, but the stiff competition proved to be too much to handle. The cross-country season spans a large portion of the year and fatigue is one of the most important factors in determining who comes out on top at these large meets.
The third Tartan to cross the finish line at the nation championships was senior Curtis Watro with a time of 25:43.7. Watro earned 153rd place with that time, which was a result that did not live up to expectations based on his performance earlier in the season. The spring saw Watro earn six first place finishes, proving himself as one of the top runners on the team and in the region. As the regular season came to a close, Watro’s finishes started to slip as he began to earn placements in the high teens and 20’s, which was uncharacteristic of him.
The rest of the Tartan team crossed the finish line soon after, but it was evident that the Tartans had not performed as well as they hoped. Sophomore Paul Fleming coasted through the end of the race only five seconds after Watro, and took 164th place. The number of runners at this meet made the competition fierce, and even the smallest measurements of time could have been the difference between first place and tenth place. Rounding out the Tartan runners was sophomores Jared Moore and Aadi Mhatre. Moore recorded a time of 25:50.4 to take 169th place, and Mhatre earned 174th place by crossing the line in 25:51.4.
Senior Ryan Archer unfortunately injured himself during the race, but he managed to find the strength to push through his pain and make his way across the finish line to complete what is likely his final race as a collegiate athlete. First-year Edward Goebel was also slated to attend but could not due to an injury late in the season. Goebel won the University Athletic Association (UAA) Rookie Of The Year award, so it would have been a great opportunity for him to showcase his talents. He’ll have to heal up and hope that he can be just as mobile as he was before his injury.
The Carnegie Mellon women’s cross country team also sent one representative to the NCAA championships on Saturday. Junior Aparna Alavilli was selected to attend the meet as the third individual in four years to compete on a national level for Carnegie Mellon. This year was Alavilli’s first time racing on the national stage, and she had a strong showing with a time of 22:01.1 to take 108th place out of 280 total runners. She also ran the same course earlier in the year, and improved her personal time on the track by 30 seconds.
Tartan cross-country had a season to be proud of. They may not have achieved the results they wanted on a national level, but they definitely showed their competitors how strong they can be. They’ll need to come back next season with a vengeance.