On September 30, the men’s cross country team won the state title for the first time since 2018, and the women’s team finished in second place at the Maine State Championships.
Will Goddard ’25 led Bowdoin with a first-place finish in the men’s 8k and was named NESCAC Performer of the Week.
“Before the race began, I felt unusually excited and filled with adrenaline, so I wanted to race aggressively. This unusual amount of energy gave me a lot of confidence for the race,” Goddard said.
Goddard’s confident mindset was reflected in his race progression, starting with an early lead he held throughout the entire race.
“I took the lead by sprinting past the guy that had been leading, which may not be the best way to cover distance, but the opponent feels more demoralized if somebody moves past you really quickly,” he said.
Head Coach Ben Raphelson said the teams are focusing on their positions relative to their competitors rather than the distance.
“[For the Maine State Championships], we worried less about covering the distance [of the entire race] and more about where we are in relation to other teams and other runners out there … and I think our runners took the strategy pretty well,” Raphelson said.
Both teams also increased their running efficiency by refining their pack running—a strategy in which teammates maintain pace with each other rather than freely going at their own pace.
“At the first meet, we had bigger groups of people running together, so the [fastest] people would have to match the speed of less fast people in the group,” Goddard said. “For the Maine State Meet, we broke it down a bit further. Sam Angevine ’24, Brooks Peters ’23 and I got split into our own group, meaning we could go out faster from the start.”
Stephanie Chun ’24, who finished fourth in the women’s race, added that more practice and experience with pack running has improved team cohesion and speed.
“We are reaching a point in our training where we have hit consistent workout days and mileage,” Chun said. “My training partner and I were able to pass a pack of Colby girls pretty early in the race and kept motivating each other, so the team aspect of the race was huge.”
Both teams are moving into the second half of the season with significant momentum.
“[Our teams] feel more competitive than it’s felt in previous years. It feels like we can compete with the top of the NESCAC now, and we’re going to fight for it,” Goddard said. “But we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
Coach Raphelson echoed Goddard’s optimism but grounded expectations and emphasized that both teams would remain focused on long-term improvement through continued training.
“I don’t think there will be major changes [to training or team strategy],” Raphelson said. “Each day, we train to improve, and if done well, that will create exciting possibilities of championships, but we don’t want to let the weight of those possibilities crush us and let them become things beyond our control.”
The teams’ next meet will be the Suffolk Invitational, at which their primary goals are to gain experience before NCAA Regionals held next month. Nevertheless, both teams are excited to compete.
“[We have] a process-oriented approach.… I think racing experience is important, even if it is not against the people that you’re preparing to race against. A race is a race, and any opportunity to push yourself is important to improve,” Chun said.
The Suffolk Invitational will take place tomorrow in Boston, Mass.