MEDFORD, Mass. – The Tufts University Men's Cross Country team is set to begin its 2017 season at the Bates Invitational in New Gloucester, Maine this Saturday at 11:45 a.m. for the third year in a row.
|Brian Reaney figures to be a big part of the success the team aims to achieve this season.|
The past two iterations of the race saw Tufts claim the top prize in 2015 when they outperformed Bates and RPI in the three-team meet, and in 2016 take second place as the contest was expanded to include Southern Maine with Bates taking first.
"One of our goals every year is to make a step forward from previous seasons," Director of Men's Cross Country Michael Schmidt said. "So we will aim to improve on our third place tie from out NESCAC conference meet and our fifth place showing at the New England regional championships. We just missed out on a qualifying team bid to the NCAA championships, so we will be looking to get a group back there as well."
The Jumbos had a strong 2016 season where they had two second place finishes, as well as a fourth and a fifth place finish. They came in second out of four teams at the Bates Invitational, second out of 41 teams at the James Early Invitational, fourth out of 20 teams at the Connecticut College Invitational, and fifth out of 56 teams at the NCAA Regional Championship. The team didn't qualify for Nationals, but seniors Tim Nichols and and Luke O'Connor ran as individuals and finished in third and 20th respectively.
Nichols and O'Connor of course will not be back for the Jumbos. Schmidt praised them as two of the fastest runners in school history. And while they may not be able to be replaced stride for stride, he mentioned that this year's team is much deeper than last year's and should be able to feed off each other better.
Junior Brian Reaney returns for the 2017 season as Tufts' top finisher from last year who has not graduated. Classmate Christian Swenson is coming off a great outdoor track season where he qualified for the NCAA Championship.
Reaney was one of Tufts' top five finishers last year in four separate races. He finished 16th overall at the James Earley Invitational, 28th at the NESCAC Championship, and 37th at Regionals.
Swenson had a successful 2016 as well. He was in the Jumbos' top finishers at the NESCAC Championship when he finished 41st overall. He also competed in three other races last year.
"This year's squad is much deeper than last year's team," Schmidt said. "We have been working on training more as a pack and preparing to feed off of each other more than we were able to do in 2016.
The Jumbos will compete in eight events this season. Along with the Bates Invitational, the team will also compete at the Purple Valley Classic (Sept. 23), the Paul Short Invitational (Sept. 29), the All New England Championships (Oct. 7), the Connecticut College Invitational (Oct. 14), the NESCAC Championships (Oct. 28), the Division III New England Regionals (Nov. 11), and the NCAA National Championships (Nov. 18).
"We have great captains and natural leaders throughout the roster," Schmidt said. "So our improved depth and the ability of so many more guys on our roster to see themselves competing at championship meets should help us be a more consistent and overall stronger team than last year."
Written by Curtis Stoychoff, Athletic Communications Intern