Big Green cross country finishes season in impressive form

by Cameron Nutt | 11/15/07 1:59am

Big Green men's and women's cross country capped off frustrating seasons on Saturday with stellar performances in the NCAA Northeast Regional Meet.

On the heels of a major letdown for both squads at the Ivy League Championship Heps race in late October, every single runner stepped up to finish the year with a bang. Dartmouth men finished sixth of 37 teams and the women took 15th of 36.

Men's Coach Barry Harwick called Saturday's 10K effort at Boston's Franklin Park "undoubtedly our best race of the season."

Harry Norton '08 posted a spectacular time of 30:23 while taking 17th place in the final cross country race of his career. Had he run nine seconds faster, Norton would have qualified for the NCAA Championships.

Finishing close behind in 21st overall was Glenn Randall '09 with a time of 30:29. Both runners maintained a blistering pace of less than five minutes per mile.

Rounding out Dartmouth's top five were Kevin Treadway '10 who placed 49th with a time of 31:11, Grant Allen '08 who placed 53rd in 31:12, and Oliver Townsend '09 who placed 60th in 31:22.

"Everybody had something that could have been much better for this race, but we still came through with a great team race," Randall said. "This was a really good way to finish our season. We've had a lot of ups and downs, but we came through and showed that we are a good team. Heps was not a good race for us, but I feel that we showed that that meet was not what people should expect from Dartmouth cross country."

After fighting through injury and illness for the last three months, Harwick's team deserves to be proud of its accomplishments this weekend. It has been a long an arduous season for the Big Green.

With All-American and two-time Ivy League champion Ben True '08 off campus this term and top runners such as Pat Dooley '08 sidelined for most of the season, expectations were not high for the men this fall. However, the squad members refused to give up and persevered through the hard times that came with a short roster.

Dooley's work, especially over the past two months after his injury, inspired the team members to push through their own setbacks and not lose sight of their collective goals.

The Connecticut native was named ECAC athlete of the week in early September before fracturing his foot the following week. For the rest of the season, Dooley worked out in the pool, attempting to use cross-training to rehabilitate himself before the last race.

"For many runners, Pat's would have been a season-ending injury," Harwick said. "But he trained incredibly hard in the pool and fitness center to keep in shape until he was able to start easy running 10 days ago. He was completely committed to helping the team at the regional and got on the starting line ready to give the race his best shot."

Dooley's injury took its toll late in the race after a great start, but he still managed to finish in 31:37.

"Just hearing about how hard Pat was training gave us a huge morale boost," Randall said. "I have no doubt that when he's healthy this winter, he'll do a lot."

The Big Green women also put on a very strong showing in their final race of the year, led by Susan Dunklee '08 who placed 53rd, Lauren Moser '08 in 74th, Laura Tabor '10 in 104th, Lauren Rosenbaum '11 in 105th and Lauren Campfield '11 in 122nd. Their respective times were 22:03, 22:23, 22:51, 22:52 and 23:07 on the 6K course.

It was an especially frustrating year for the women's team as injuries depleted its ranks and sickness kept other Big Green competitors out of races.

The good news is that the majority of the squad is very young and will be back for several more seasons ready to build on this year's experiences.

Teammates told another inspirational story of determination about Moser, who struggled to stay healthy the last four years and helped to lead the team this year.

"It was really great to see Lauren have a solid senior season since she has dealt with injuries since her freshman year," Tabor said.

"All of her hard work paid off with some nice performances," Harwick said.

It seems that Dartmouth's cross country team is a program that simply refuses to throw in the towel.

"I think we've worked a lot on staying motivated and focused as individuals and as a team despite missing key runners and doing as well as we would have liked," Tabor said. "I think the fact that many people ran their best races this weekend shows that we've done well with this goal."

The cross country season has concluded, but do not expect to see an end to the scantily clad runners dashing about campus, as the indoor track season begins when classes resume in January. The team's first meet will be the Dartmouth Relays held in Hanover from Jan. 11-13, 2008.