The men’s cross country team finished fifth out of 11 teams at the NESCAC Championship last Saturday in its best finish since 2013, while the women’s team took tenth place.
The team’s running strategy was refined for the NESCAC Championships and reflects its mental focus.
“I had this idea [with Will Goddard ’25] to trade off miles. I wanted to take the first and third miles and he would take the second and fourth,” Brooks Peters ’23 said. “[In the race,] it came to fruition … and we pulled each other along.”
This strategy proved successful as the men’s team saw Goddard and Peters finishing fifth and seventh respectively. Goddard’s finish was Bowdoin’s best individual championship finish since 2018.
The women’s team also saw huge improvements in their results. Delaney Jones ’26 posted her fastest 6k time this season at the championship and attributes her success to her personal growth and supportive team culture.
“I think the biggest contributor to my own improvement this season is a change in mindset going into races. Running is such a mental sport, so believing you can run faster is just as important as whether you actually can run faster or not,” Jones wrote in an email to the Orient. “[The team] has an incredibly supportive and encouraging team environment.… The way that we support each other as both friends and teammates and always celebrate each other’s successes is a huge factor in our improvement as runners.”
These accomplishments come amidst challenging running conditions.
“On the day [of the race], the temperature got into the 80s, warmer than it had been before, which really can throw the bodies off,” Head Coach Ben Raphelson said. “Plenty of athletes handled it well and had solid races, but others were pretty affected by the heat.”
On top of the hot temperatures, the NESCAC Championships were hosted by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, which had rolling hills and muddy terrain, making the course even more strenuous.
Nevertheless, the Polar Bears were able to perform.
“Going into the race, I reminded myself that every runner was facing the same conditions,” Jones wrote. “I drank lots of water and tried to stay in the shade as much as possible before the race. Once the gun went off, I didn’t think about the heat anymore. I focused on running the best race I could.”
Looking forward, the team will compete at the NCAA East Regional. The top team from this meet will automatically qualify for the NCAA DIII Cross Country Championship, while 22 other teams will be selected based on overall season performance, including results of the NESCAC Championship.
“We felt this was going to be a special year and, since the start of the season, wanted to qualify the team for nationals,” Seamus McDonough ’27 said. “But [the NCAA East Regional] is going to be up to individual runners, and everyone’s going to have to perform. So my goal is to do my part and help the team qualify.”
The NCAA East Regional will also be an exciting cumulation of the team’s hard work and training throughout the season.
“We’re at a point where training … isn’t going to necessarily make us better for regionals. Our priority [in the final weeks] is making sure we recover from NESCACs,” Raphelson said. “I call it synthesis—letting all that hard training do its job. You see the best adaptation from training often from ten days to two weeks afterwards, and we’re now hopefully in a position to reap what we sow.”
The NCAA Regional course will be held at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H.
“Franklin Pierce [University] is a DII school, and they’re just allowing us to use the course. While some schools may have been on it, it’s not a typical course. I anticipate it will be new for pretty much the whole field,” Raphelson said.
Ahead of NCAA Regionals, both cross country teams have shown tremendous improvement in this season.
“It goes without saying that the future is really bright, and this isn’t a fluke year,” Peters said. “There has been a culture shift of enjoying the sport with each other … enjoying what we do, the little things, the practices … what most people might call mundane about running.”
The NCAA East Regional will take place on Saturday, November 11.