WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. --The United States Merchant Marine Academy men's cross country team placed eighth out of 52 teams this past weekend at the ECAC Championships in Williamstown, Massachussetts.
A total of 267 runners competed at the meet, which pits top competition stretching as far north as Maine, as far south as Virginia, and as far west as western Pennsylvania. Hosted by Williams College, the 8K course at Mt. Greylock High School was difficult and hilly. Weather conditions were ideal for running with temperatures hovering in the low 40's, clear skies, and low humidity.
The Mariners were significantly shorthanded as they only ran five runners due to athletes being unable to make it back from fall break in time because of the effects of Hurricane Sandy. They also ran without three of their top freshmen runners and was also missing one All-Conference runner.
Despite the small numbers, there was no shortage of effort. Every single USMMA competitor finished higher than Merchant Marine's number one runner at the same meet in 2011; running an identical course. Kigns Point's eighth place finish was the highest team place at ECACs since 2000 as well as a 13 place improvement from 2011. USMMA's score of 285 was a 290 point reduction from a year ago, more than slicing their 2011 total in half.
Amherst College won the event and the top 10 placed as follows:
- Keene State
Although battling through hardships, Kings Point was still able to knock off service academy rival Coast Guard, local rival St. Joseph's (L.I), perennial powerhouses Springfield, Hobart, Connecticut College, and Trinity College, and Drew, the only other Landmark Conference school to compete.
Placing first for the Mariners was freshman Andrew Walsh (Granville, Ohio) who finished 34th overall with a time of 27:44. Walsh's time was a full 1:05 faster and 53 places higher than USMMA's 2011 number one finisher at the ECACs.
Sophomore Nicolas Walsh (Dubai, UAE) (27:56) came in 43rd overall and improved his personal time and place by 1:08 and 62 spots from the 2011 ECACs. Sophomore David McGowan (Clarksville, Md.) placed 53rd overall with a time of 28:10 improving on his 2011 ECAC mark by 39 seconds and 33 places.
Rounding out the competitors for USMMA was freshman John Weldon (Houston, Texas) who placed 76th overall with a time of 28:43 and junior Nathan Rogers (South Bend, Wash.) who dropped 57 seconds and 54 places from his 2011 ECAC finish coming in 81st with a time of 28:47.
"The men are getting excited for next week's NCAA regional," said Head Coach Greg Lott. "With all the crazy traveling and issues surrounding the hurricane, it was hardly the week of rest for which I was hoping. Even though we were missing some major contributors, our guys ran amazingly well. They showed tremendous improvement from a year ago. It's a lot of fun to watch this team transform."
Merchant Marine will spend the coming week recovering and gearing up for NCAA Regionals taking place Saturday November 10th in Rochester, New York.