Sports

Men’s cross country best four out of five Ivy League rivals

Team finishes seventh at Northeast Region Championship ahead of conference foes

By
Staff Writer
Sunday, November 12, 2017

The men’s cross country team squared off against a slew of familiar foes Friday at the NCAA Northeast Region Championships, hosted by SUNY at Buffalo. Temperatures hovered in the 20s and the earth was thick with mud, but the Bears nevertheless finished above their forecasted finish. Though ranked only 14th by the USTFCCCA entering the meet, Bruno ultimately claimed seventh place in the team standings with 245 points.

Led by individual victor Justyn Knight, Syracuse University won the meet with a score of 28, outperforming runner-up Iona College by 20 points.

Brown’s result represented a marked improvement over its performance at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championship two weeks prior. There, the team had expected to finish in the top half of the Ancient Eight for the first time since 2012, but struggled to a second-to-last place finish — ahead of only Harvard.

The Northeast Region Championship afforded Bruno a second opportunity to race against Ivy League opponents — besides Penn and Princeton. The Bears made the most of this rematch, finishing hot on the heels of Ivy runner-up Columbia and handily defeating Cornell, Harvard, Dartmouth and Yale. The Lions were fifth with 223 points, but the Big Red, Crimson, Big Green and Bulldogs ranked ninth, 11th, 13th and 17th, respectively.

“We really wanted to bounce back coming off (the Ivy League Championship),” said captain Martin Martinez ’18. “We weren’t thinking of a specific place at the Regional, but we wanted to beat those Ivy teams and a lot of other teams that just had no business competing with us. We were able to do that, and we almost beat Columbia.”

At the conference championship, Bruno lacked firepower towards the front of the pack. This was not the case in Buffalo, where two Brown harriers — Gabe Altopp ’20 and Martinez  — finished in the top 25, earning All-Northeast Region honors for their efforts.

Altopp blazed a trail for the Bears over the swampy 10-kilometer course. After getting off the line in about 40th place, the sophomore patiently worked his way up through the field. “I would see a guy and make that my goal — to catch up to him,” Altopp said. “I just kept doing that until about 500 (meters) to go. Then it was time for the kick.”

In the latter stages of the race, Altopp overtook 11 competitors to take 14th place, recording a time of 32 minutes, 17 seconds. Though he only finished 35th at the Ivy League Championship, Altopp was the second Ivy finisher in the Northeast Region, behind Cornell’s Dominic DeLuca.

“It was awesome to see him have that race,” Martinez said. “We’ve been waiting for him to have a breakout.”

Martinez himself enjoyed a strong showing in the final cross country competition of his collegiate career. Throughout the race, the captain maintained a consistent position, never falling below 24th place in the individual standings before going on to finish 22nd overall in a time of 32:36. Forty-four seconds after Martinez crossed the line, Brown’s third man, Andrew Foerder ’18, concluded his cross-country career by finishing in 52nd place.

Foerder thought the race was a fine send-off for the team’s seniors. “This is what you think of when you think of cross country. Muddy and cold and grinding it out with the guys.”

Cam Daly ’20, who has raced despite illness this season, was fourth across the line for the Bears, nabbing 73rd place in 33:46. Rookie David Scherrer ’21 completed the scoring for Bruno in 84th place, clocking 33:51 for his first-ever 10K race.

Martinez expects that the team’s current underclassmen will perform well in the future. “We’ve got a lot of good young talent coming back,” he said. “Now we’re looking for those guys … to translate the success they’ve had in cross country to the track.”

Friday marked the end of the cross country season for Brown, as only the top two teams from the Northeast Region qualified to compete at the NCAA National Championship. Altopp nearly made Nationals as an individual athlete but ultimately missed out on the last qualifying spot by a single second.

“I can’t be too bummed that I didn’t make it,” Altopp said. “Now I have a goal for next year: to qualify — because it’s apparent that I can make it.”