Nichols, O'Connor Finish 1-2 at NESCAC Men's Cross Country Championship as Team Ties for 3rd

2016 NESCAC champion Tim Nichols from Tufts

WATERVILLE, Maine - Senior co-captains Tim Nichols and Luke O'Connor of the Tufts University men's cross country team finished first and second, respectively, at the 2016 NESCAC Championship held today at Colby College. The Jumbos finished tied for third as a team.

Nichols, who covered the 8 kilometers in 24:58.79, is the first Jumbo to win the individual conference title since 1981 when Mark Hardie was the NESCAC champion. Nichols finished over 30 seconds in front of the rest of the field today, with O'Connor coming in as the runner-up in a 25:29.80 time.

Their performances led Tufts to a 126 team score, which was tied with Middlebury College.

For Nichols, it marked his third straight year in the NESCAC top-10 and the fourth year in a row he has been among the conference's top-15. He was fifth (25:08.97) at the conference championship last year, seventh in 2014 (25:28.6) and 14th in 2013 (25:20.4).

O'Connor's runner-up effort matched a second-place finish in the NESCAC race that Matt Rand posted in 2012. O'Connor was sixth at the race last season (25:10.94), 14th in 2014 (25:42.1) and 30th in 2013 (25:41.13).

The Jumbo duo took control just after the mile and made a separation from the pack along with David Chelimo from Colby. Nichols kept the pace moving through the huge hill in the third mile and made a strong gap that he held on to for the rest of the race. O'Connor and Chelimo battled through the second half, with the Jumbo pulling ahead and holding on through the challenging last mile to earn the 1-2 finish.

Colby is perhaps the hardest of all NESCAC courses on a muddy day, so the Tufts pairs' times of 24:58 and 25:29 were tremendous efforts and among the top-performances in meet history. 

Sophomore Brian Reaney scored third for the Jumbos today by placing 28th overall with a 26:52.02 time. Sophomore Christian Swenson was fourth for Tufts and 41st overall with a 27:07.39 finish. Freshman David Ng'etich was the fifth and final Jumbo to score in 55th place with a 27:21.54 finish.

Also in the top-seven for the Jumbos were sophomore Andrew Doherty Munro (69th overall in 27:42.35) and junior Sam Little (71st in 27:47.23). 

Other strong performances for the Jumbos included sophomore James Gregoire (28:01.73), sophomore Brian Djerf (28:02.05), sophomore Dylan Jones (28:13.62), sophomore Rory Buckman (28:25.83) and senior Michael Caughron (28:32.74). 

Williams College won the conference title with an 83 score, 17 ahead of second-place Amherst College (100).

Head coach Joel Williams' Jumbos are off next week prior to the NCAA New England Regional Championship coming up on Nov. 12 at Westfield State.