Cross-country opens at Bates
Early September, in the world of NESCAC cross-country, is a time of collective trial. After logging miles all summer, sometimes from different corners of the world, teams unite on the trails to test their mettle, push their limits, and shape their seasons. By the time November hits, however, it's often easy to forget-lost in the dynamics of the fall-that personal strategies play a role. So it was that the Class Wave Meet at Pineland Farms on Saturday not only gave the Mules a chance harvest the early returns of summer training but also to adjust individual plans. All this, of course, while eying a close rival.
Indeed, with Bates as the host, the Mules ran four races at Pineland Farms: junior/senior romps and freshman/sophomore spins for the men's team and sophomore/senior tracks as well as freshman/junior spurs for the women's. The men's elders began the day at 10:30, with four Colby harriers in the pack-senior captain Andy Maguire, fellow senior Ben Cunkelman, and juniors Matthieu Nadeau and Justin Rouse-running against eight Bates greybeards on the 6k course. Cunkelman led for most of the race against one of the NESCAC's stronger runners, Bobcats senior Devin Dilts, but couldn't hold on in the end and finished four seconds behind Dilts in 19:42. "I tried to squeeze the kick out of him but he still had some gas in the tank," said Cunkelman. Maguire was with the lead group for the first mile and finished in sixth overall with a time of 20:35. Nadeau and Rouse finished seventh and tenth, respectively, with times of 21:13 and 21:32.
The fountain of youth race, interestingly, went off at a faster clip than the junior/senior flight with sophomore Brian Desmond pushing the pace and holding on for a third place finish in 20:04. "Desmond went balls to the wall," said Cunkelman, "and tried to stay with the lead two Batsies for as long as he could before falling off a bit." Fellow Mule Luke Doherty Munro '13 took sixth in 20:26-showing his grit as he out-kicked a Bobcat to the finish-and Tom Letourneau '13, who has been consistently logging 100-mile weeks, came in eighth for Colby at 20:30. Among the first-years, Mathew Cloherty and Dylan Nisky led the way, finishing with the sixth and seventh fastest times on the team, respectively, in 20:41 and 21:02.
"The race was a good tune up for the up coming season and an chance for us to display our individual abilities with the end of preseason," said Maguire. "Yet being a shorter and semi-informal meet, it's more for personal adjustment than an indicator. " Added Rouse, "it was great dress rehearsal for the team; a chance for everyone to toe the line and get a taste for what's to come this season."
On the women's side, the Wave Race was a clinic in Colby speed. Mules took the top four spots in the sophomore/senior race over the 2.87-mile course, with sophomores Berol Dewdney, Amy Tortorello and Layne Schwab and senior co-captain Emma Linhard finishing in first through fourth, respectively, in times of 17:42, 17:42, 17:43 and 17:46. In the freshman/junior race, first-year Allison Rigby complimented Dewdney's victory with a bullet of her own. Rigby covered the course in 17:34, closely trailed by fellow Colby gunners Kate Connolly '14 and Sophie Weaver '14, with times of 17:37 and 18:02, respectively.
"The race on Saturday was such a thrilling way to start the season," said Linhard. "The [first-years] not only made an incredible debut by having the fastest overall times of the day, but each girl on the team worked so well together throughout the entirety of the races by doing their part to take turns leading and each supporting one another."
Added senior co-captain Debbie Merzbach, "We are really excited to see what the team can do this year. The wave race was a great start to our season, and we have a lot of talent coming from the freshman class as well as strong returning runners."
Next week both the men's and women's teams return to Pineland for a race against Bates, Bowdoin and Tufts. The race will be the 2010 season openers for the Polar Bears and the Jumbos.