CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – MIT junior Sarah Quinn (Watchung, N.J.) was constantly reminded of her team's goals each day throughout the 2014 cross country season. Staring at her preseason objectives – a sticky note hanging on her locker – she, along with her teammates, relied on those words to remain focused.
"They basically were reminders of what things we do well, what things we can do better and what do I want to achieve this season," Quinn said of the sticky notes.
Senior Spencer Wenck (Monument, Colo.) didn't recall his team relying on written words, but instead an overall goal that was established during the initial meeting back in August. And that focus was on reaching the NCAA Cross Country Championships in November.
"We (knew we needed) to finish strong, get ready for the national championships and just keep moving toward those goals," said Wenck "I think that was a very significant aspect of keeping us on track for a successful year."
Both Wenck and Quinn, the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Runners of the Year, assisted the MIT men and women's cross country teams in achieving their goal of reaching nationals. Both squads concluded their campaigns with a haul of top finishes and honors.
At the NCAA Cross Country Championships, Quinn - the New England Region Runner of the Year - and the women's team recorded the highest finish in program history, rounding out the season as the second best team in the country. On the men's side, the team matched the program's best finish from 1985, claiming eighth place.
"The difference for the women's team was (their) attitude," said Halston Taylor, who was named the NEWMAC Men and Women's Coach of the Year and the U.S Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) New England Region Coach of the Year. "This year it was 'We're going there to win, we believe we can win and if we don't it's because the other teams (are) going to be better that day,' but there didn't seem to be the doubt, particularly with the top runners."
After the final results were recorded, MIT collected a combined seven All-America honors. Quinn, Wenck, senior Elaine McVay (San Ramon, Calif.), junior Matthew Deyo (Syracuse, N.Y.), and sophomores Maryann Gong (Livermore, Calif.), Christina Wicker (Oak Harbor, Wash.) and Colin Godwin (Cary, N.C) each received the special accolade.
"It's an attitude thing, it is not necessarily talent, (but instead) running smart," Taylor said of his seven All-America runners.
The 2014 season will not only be remembered for each team's performance at the national championship meet, but also their impressive top 10 team finishes at each meet along the way. MIT again captured both NEWMAC championships with the men winning their 17th straight crown, while the women won for the eighth consecutive year. The women swept the top five spots while the men claimed the top seven finishes, which helped both teams tally a perfect score of 15 points, a unique and remarkable accomplishment.
"We had a lot of people with dedication and that meant a lot – and not only dedication to their own performance, but (to) everyone else's performance," said McVay.