Men's XC runs into national spotlight
The Bowdoin Men's Cross Country Team finished second out of 35 teams in the New England Division III Championship at Westfield State last Saturday. The top four teams--Keene State, Bowdoin, Williams, and Connecticut College--will run in the NCAA Division III National Championships at Northfield, Minnesota tomorrow.
Keene State, winner of last year's regional race, repeated their championship with 64 points. Bowdoin (111 points) matched last year's second place NE D III finish. The two other national qualifiers, Williams and Connecticut College, tallied 132 and 151 points respectively. Trinity, Tufts, MIT, Bates, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and Wesleyan rounded out the top ten teams.
The Bowdoin Men showed a mastery of the Westfield State course en route to their impressive second place finish. Bowdoin's first runner, co-captain and 2001 All-American Todd Forsgren '03, finished in ninth place with a time of 25:02 followed by co-captain Pat Vardaro '03 (twenty-second place in 25:26). Scott Barbuto '03 was twenty-fourth overall, and clocked an impressive 25:32, despite running with a pulled calf muscle.
Senior co-captain Jeff Rubens, twenty-fifth place, finished less than one second behind Barbuto. Junior Scott Herrick, thirty-first place, ran a personal best 25:46 over the slushy five mile course. Bowdoin's NCAA Championship berth was solidified by thirty eighth place Dan Gulotta '03, who ran a personal best of 25:55. Seventh-man sophomore sensation Ben Peisch took forty-sixth place in 26:04.
After the race, the team was treated to a feast at the home of Dan Gulotta in Sheffield, Massachusetts. The weary and excited runners were recharged after dining on roasted venison.
After the race, Head Coach Peter Slovenski commented on what will be the final chapter for the five seniors running at nationals tomorrow: "This has been the best class of distance runners in Bowdoin history. We have seven exceptional senior runners who each bring some championship qualities to the lineup."
Slovenski elaborated, "Todd gives us poise and nerves of steel in the championship races. Pat has wonderful passion for the team and the school. Scott Barbuto makes us more intelligent in races, and Jeff Rubens has made us more dedicated in our training. Conor O'Brien helps keep us steady and persistent, while Dan Gulotta complements that by being our most unpredictable and dangerous runner. Alex Moore brings an excellent sense of humor and wit to the program."
"It has been a fantastic group that brought two consecutive NESCAC cross-country championships to Bowdoin. They have the character to finish as one of the top ten teams in Division III this weekend."
Forsgren noted how the men's team has not yet reached its peak potential: "Second place in New England is certainly something the team should be very proud of. A lot of the guys had great races, with five of us gaining all New England honors. We've been looking forward to nationals all year and I think our best race is yet to come."
Coach Slovenski shared Forsgren's view: "We had an excellent race in the regional, but we have been pointing to the national race all season. We'll run even better this weekend. We've been preparing for nationals all summer and fall."
Vardaro agreed and was pleased that the women's team was making the trip with the men: "The high point of the day at Westfield was when we found out that the women had not only qualified for NCAAs, but had pulled off a huge upset by coming in third. Having both teams at nationals is almost certainly going to boost our performance."
The seven-man squad, which departed for Minnesota yesterday, looks to set the Bowdoin College record for the highest finish by any sports team in a NCAA Championship. The 1994 Bowdoin Women's Cross-Country team currently holds this honor with their sixth place finish in the NCAA Championship. The Bowdoin men finished 11th in their trip to nationals last year and are ranked ninth in the latest NCAA coaching poll.
Co-captain Conor O'Brien '03 explained the mystique of nationals: "It's like a big dance. You think all that counts is getting invited. But if it's going to be a night to remember you better dress well and make all the right moves."