True takes first as men's cross country wins Ivy title

by Matthew Mackey | 10/31/05 6:00am

The Big Green men continued to trample the competition Friday, placing its first five in the top 12, including a first place finish from Ben True '08, to win the Ivy League title in the Heptagonal Championships, held at Van Cordlandt Park in New York City. The women, meanwhile, saw solid runs from its top two, but could only muster enough behind them to take seventh.

Ranked No. 14 nationally and first in the region, the Dartmouth men were the favorites going into Heps, and they lived up to those expectations, with their score of 30 only remotely challenged by second-place Princeton's 47.

True's championship run was an exciting one to say the least, passing Brown's Owen Washburn in the final stretch to take the individual title in 24:36.2. Teammates Alec Wall '07, Dave Burnham '06 and Ian Marcus '07 were right behind, taking fourth, sixth, and seventh in 24:40.5, 24:48.0 and 24:49.0, respectively.

The scoring for Dartmouth began and ended with a sophomore, as Harry Norton '08 came across in 25:12.1 to take 12th overall.

Of the team's performance men's coach Barry Harwick '77 said, "We've been working pretty well together all year they did a good job about staying together the whole way. That's what they needed to do and they did a great job at it."

The men's dominance was displayed in its depth as well as its ability, as nine of the top 30 were Dartmouth runners.

Said Wall, "It seemed that the rest of the field expected our top four runners to control the race and we did just that, [forcing] the rest of the field into running our race, allowing us to keep our fifth through seventh runners in the thick of the race."

Co-captain Burnham added, "Harry Norton, Steve Mucchetti and Matt Davis," the fifth through seventh runners, "all rose to the occasion and ran well, but after watching them in practice for the last few weeks, I'm not surprised."

Had the last five teams at Heps, Penn, Columbia, Cornell, Yale and Harvard all been scored as one team with only their best runners counted, Dartmouth still would have outscored them, 30-76, a testament to the strength of Dartmouth's performance.

The Big Green women's team finished seventh out of the Ancient Eight, its score of 147 good enough to finish ahead of Harvard's 164 and behind Cornell's 132.

Hilary Dionne '07 and co-captain Melanie Schorr '06 finished within a second of each other, Dionne taking sixth in 17:31.7 and Melanie seventh in 17:32.3.

"I challenged myself to be up with the lead pack from the gun, but unfortunately lost ground the last mile of the course," said Schorr. "Hilary ran a very smart race and got me at the line. It's been amazing to see how much she's improved over the past year, and I can't wait to race with her at regionals."

Dionne added, "The race was a career best for me, I would say. My goal was to be in the top 10 and break 18 minutes, which I did, so I was excited, and am still slightly in disbelief."

Susan Dunklee '08 finished a respectable 29th in 18:27.1, but the women's team-score was hurt by the high finishes of the fourth and fifth runners; Elisa McCarthy '08 finished in 19:24.1 and Aryn Gruneisen '09 came in right after her 19:24.3, their times good enough for 52nd and 53rd overall.

Women's coach Maribel Souther said, "Melanie and Hilary did what they always do, and came through, and maximized our opportunities, but unfortunately, we have to have every runner reach her potential, and that just didn't happen today."

Despite the lack of real team success, the women can still look forward to their top runners trying for individual honors in the coming meets.

Said Souther previously, "We have a lot more potential to be better than we have been. Right now I'm definitely focusing on getting as many of my individual athletes to qualify for NCAAs as possible."

"For regionals, I just want to race without holding back, since it could possibly be my last race of the season," said Dionne. "Ultimately, I would love to qualify as an individual for nationals the following week, but the Northeast is a very competitive division, so it will be a challenge."

Dunklee is likewise looking forward. "As a team, we didn't live up to our expectations going in," she said, "but the most important thing for us to do now is to move on. Regionals is in two weeks and it's full of opportunity."

The men are also looking forward to regionals, but with a different goal in mind--taking one of the top two spots in the region, good for an automatic bid to the NCAA national meet.

Though the men have the top ranking in the region, they will still face stiff competition from national No. 21 Iona and Providence, who have historically dominated the region.

"We had to deal with the pressure of being ranked first in the region going into Heps," said Harwick, "and we'll have to deal with the pressure off being ranked first going into regionals."

Referring to the bid she commented, "I'd much rather leave Franklin Park on the 12th knowing that we're going to NCAAs by finishing in the top two than having to wait until the day after to hear." The NCAA regional meet will be held at Boston's Franklin Park on Nov. 12.

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