Sports

Men’s cross country top Providence, Ivy League foes in Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown

Indiana, Illinois, Syracuse only schools to finish above Bruno in impressive fourth-place team finish

By
Staff Writer
Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Brown men’s cross country team tested themselves against national, regional and conference-caliber competition at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown Friday, hosted by Boston College at Franklin Park.

Though the weather was wet and cheerless, the outcome of the meet was sunny for Brown. In its strongest showing of the season, Bruno tallied 117 points to place fourth out of 18 teams. Only nationally ranked programs outpaced Brown: No. 3 Syracuse, No. 27 Illinois and No. 21 Indiana, which finished in that order.

Brown handily defeated cross-town rival Providence College, which finished seventh. It was a major coup for the Bears, marking the first time in five years that Brown has triumphed over the Friars. Brown also enjoyed victories over Ivy League foes Dartmouth and Harvard, who finished ninth and 11th, respectively. 

Co-captain Matthew Mahoney ’18 said the team was pleased with the result. “Going into the meet, we were expecting to beat Harvard and Dartmouth fairly easily. We weren’t really sure about Providence … they’ve got a great team and a great coach. So that was pretty exciting.”

Mahoney scalped a few athletes in the late stages of the race to lead his team home with an eighth place finish. Mahoney covered the eight-kilometer course in 24 minutes, 28 seconds — just 15 seconds slower than the individual winner, Jesse Reiser of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Head Coach Tim Springfield’s plan had been for Mahoney to run alongside co-captain Martin Martinez ’18 in the lead pack, keeping stride with the frontrunners for as long as possible.

“When we went through 5K, some of the Syracuse and Illinois guys started dropping the pace a little bit,” Mahoney said. “My last two miles were my fastest miles — I was able to pass three or four guys. Martin faded a bit, but still finished pretty strong.” 

Brown’s next three runners crossed the line in a cluster: Martinez — in his first major cross country race since undergoing surgery over a year ago — finished 22nd in 24:47; Cameron Daly ’20, 23rd in 24:50; and Michael Wyman ’18, 25th in 24:56.

The captains were excited about the strong showing by Wyman — a middle-distance specialist on the track — as this was his first 8-km cross-country race in nearly three years.

“The training (Wyman) has done the past few years has been more 800 meter to mile-oriented,” Mahoney said. “He got his mileage up this summer and this fall. He’s going to play a big role on the team going forward.”

A gap in Brown’s pack followed Wyman. Precious seconds ticked away as the squad waited for its crucial fifth man to finish; all the while, runners from other teams were pouring into the finishing chute. Eventually, Gabe Altopp ’20 staunched the bleeding for the Bears, finalizing Brown’s score by finishing in 43rd place.

The Bears competed without their usual number three man, senior Andrew Foerder ’18, who was absent due to academic commitments. Had Foerder finished near Martinez and Daly, as he has in past meets this season, Brown would have scored roughly 15 fewer points and leapfrogged Indiana in the standings.

Martinez emphasized the importance of senior leadership in regards to the improvement that the team has shown this year. “We have a lot of upperclassmen who have been injured in the past, who’ve finally been able to put the pieces together and figure out what’s right for them in terms of training and racing,” he said. “They know this is their last year, and they’re putting all their cards on the table.”

The Bears’ postseason prospects are bright. In the latest edition of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division I NCAA Coaches’ Regional Rankings, Brown is ranked sixth in the Northeast, while Providence is ranked fourth. Given the Friars’ defeat at the hands of Bruno, it is reasonable to assume that this order will reverse in the poll’s next edition.

Brown has not finished as high as fourth place at the NCAA Northeast Regional since 2007. Finishing fourth or better this year could potentially earn the Bears their first ticket to NCAA Nationals since 1996.

The Bears will lace up their spikes again Oct. 13, when the team hosts its annual home meet, the Rothenberg Cross Country Invitational, at Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick.