Nov. 13, 2004
CUMBERLAND, Maine - Saturday's performance was truly bittersweet for MIT's cross country program. While the team rejoiced in Ben Schmeckpeper's defense of the NCAA Division III New England Regional individual championship, the team surly felt the sting of coming so close to a National berth, only to lose it by falling to sixth overall in the 39-team field.
On any given day, the Engineers have proved to be worthy of a shot at the National Championship. During the campaign, MIT moved from regional contenders to the national polls, garnering the No. 20 spot in the latest Division III rankings. The climb up the rankings hasn't been without merit, as Tech consistently has shown it can compete with any team in the country. Unfortunately for the Engineers, last Saturday was one of the team's worst starts of the season and despite the desire to advance, the deficit was too great to overcome.
Schmeckpeper was clearly the highlight of the day, unveiling a tremendous command over Twin Brooks' hilly terrain. Schmeckpeper casually moved to the front around the two-mile mark before racing across the final three miles of the circuit in 14:58. Backed by a 4:50 final mile, Schmeckpeper preserved his narrow edge over Williams College All-America Neal Holtschulte, and broke the tape in 25:37. Holtschulte finished sixth overall at last year's National Championships.
Finishing second for the Engineers was senior John Brewer. A consistent performer all season, Brewer maintained his position throughout the battle and finished 23rd overall with a clip of 26:48. Carlos Renjifo finished 49th to give Tech three runners among the top 50. A strong finish enabled Renjifo to make some late passes and complete the course in 27:26. Kevin Brulois and Fivos Constantinou completed the scoring for MIT by also finishing the race strong. Brulois placed 57th in 27:35, while Constantinou finished 60th after crossing the line in 27:39.
Tufts University won the race with 62 points. Williams College ensured its trip to Nationals with a fantastic effort en route to second, while Keene State and Bates College secured the final two team spots for the New England region. Qualifying for the third straight year as an individual, Schmeckpeper will make the trip to Colfax, Wis., to race in the NCAA Division III Championship.