First year leads men at NCAAs
Early in the season, Bowdoin men's cross country captain Taylor Washburn '04 was quoted by the press saying, "I think we can be among the top teams in New England this year, and I'm pretty sure we're going to surprise a lot of people at the end of the season. We have a number of All-New England caliber runners. In terms of expectations or predictions, all I'll say is that we're going to be at our best in November."
Were Washburn's words spawned by extreme confidence and an unflinching will to succeed, or were they simply prophetic?
Either way, Washburn's words rang true last Saturday, as the Bowdoin Men's Cross Country Team triumphantly redeemed their season on Saturday by placing eighth at the New England Regional Championship in Cumberland, Maine.
The Polar Bears were led by first-year sensation Owen "O-Mac" McKenna, who placed 11th overall. McKenna captured All-New England honors and individually qualified for nationals.
Also with a breakout race was Andrew Combs '06, who was also named All-New England with a 33rd place finish.
Next to cross the finish line were Scott Herrick '03 in 51st place, Patrick Hughes '05 in 57th place, and Ben Peisch '05 in 103rd place. Rounding out the Polar Bear contingent were Taylor Washburn '04 in 107th place and Michael Record '06 in 171st place.
Eighth place overall was a remarkable achievement for the Polar Bears. A mere two weeks earlier, the men had been humiliated at the NESCAC Championships. They stumbled across the line in tenth place, slaughtered by every team except for Hamilton.
The men were not deterred, however, as they prepared for New Englands. Rather than stew in self-pity, they put their shoulders to the wheel and resolved to run to their potential. The men knew they had the talent necessary to be a top ten team. They were ready to execute this plan without excuses.
The men would not have placed in the top ten without two outstanding performances by underclassmen at the front of the pack. McKenna started out strong with the leaders, while Combs started conservatively and relentlessly moved up for the entire race. Both runners showed their incredible finishing talent over the last stretch, doing their school, team, and alumni proud by releasing their raw, ruthless speed over the final mile. Herrick and Hughes were not far behind, crossing the line mere seconds away from one another. Bowdoin's fifth finisher, Peisch, lagged behind, but his run was just good enough to put the men ahead of Connecticut College.
While the season is not over for McKenna, who will represent Bowdoin well at the national championships in Indiana tomorrow, the season is over for the team. It has been a challenging season for the Polar Bears, but their team unity and commitment to excellence never faltered, despite many setbacks. The men trusted in their teammates, training, and coaching staff, and in the final race of their season, their patience was rewarded. Now, the men will enjoy a short break from running before resuming training for the indoor track season, which promises to be exciting as well.
Special thanks are extended to all students, alumni, and faculty who came out to cheer on both the men's and women's teams over the weekend. Best of luck to McKenna and to the women's team, both of whom will be representing Bowdoin at the national championships. They have earned their positions, have done all the training necessary to succeed, and are prepared to make Bowdoin very proud.
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