Last Saturday, Sept. 30, the men’s cross country team ran a strong race at the Saratoga Springs Invitational, hosted by Rensselaer Institute of Technology (RPI) in Saratoga Springs, New York. Bates placed second out of 16 teams, losing only to the No. 7 nationally ranked RPI, 54 to 37.
It was a cool, rainy, fall morning when the men’s cross country team stepped up to the line. After a short blow of the whistle, a quick shuffling and a long moment of silence, the gun went off and the Bobcats, along with over 200 other participants, took off in a burst of speed and began the 8k (4.97mi) race.
RPI runners Grant O’Connor (24:56)and Sean O’Connor (25:30) came in first and second respectively, giving RPI a solid foundation for their win.
Zach Magin ‘18 finished first for Bates, running the course in 25:40 and placing sixth overall. Following him were Ben Tonelli ‘18 in eighth (25:50), Ryan Betz ‘19 in 12th (25:58), Matthew Morris ‘18 in 13th (26:00), Justin Levine ‘20 in 14th (26:02) and Henry Colt ‘19 in 19th (26:11).
Each of the runners listed above placed in the top 20, earning themselves and the rest of the team fresh pies to share on the long ride back to Lewiston.
Overall, the top five runners for Bates finished close together, sporting a total spread of 22.5 seconds, in comparison to RPI’s 1:11.1, exemplifying Bates’ team spirit and strong use of pack running.
“Our plan was to pack it in the first two miles,” Magin said. “We each had our own separate groups to run with and I felt excited to be running with them. As the race went on, we started to separate, but I still felt like I was running with my teammates. There’s that connection that even if you’re not running with them at the moment, there’s a feeling that you’re running for something greater than yourself. It was great to [turn around and] see everyone come in so close [at the finish].”
“We knew coming in that [RPI] would have the advantage, since it’s their home course,” said the men’s head cross country coach Al Fereshetian. “We should have had more patience [in the beginning] and played off of them instead of them off of us, but I was pleased with the attitude and determination that the team showed at the meet.” He continued to note that 14 of the 18 men running at the invitational ran personal records.
“Normally there’s some intra-teamcompetition, which can be healthy in small amounts, but this group of guys is very supportive,” Magin said. “There’s a lot of energy in workouts and everyone wants each other to do well; there’s a lot of excitement for each other’s accomplishments.”
Throughout this season, the men’s team has been running strong, posting a win over Colby in their first race and a win over Tufts in their second. At the midpoint of the season, Bates is currently ranked fourth in the NESCAC and 21 nationally.
The Bobcats will be running some of the toughest workouts of the season in these next couple weeks as they prepare to compete against Bowdoin for the Maine state title. The race will be held at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine on Oct. 14.