By Paul Cina
Cross country teams of all divisions traveled to Stanley Park in Westfield, MA for the New England Championships last Sunday. While some consider the meet as just a mid-season invitational, others see it as a huge indicator of their team’s fitness before heading into the championship part of the season.
New England’s is traditionally held at Franklin Park in Boston, however due to renovations the race directors had to seek a new location. Stanley Park was the alternative. Two men’s races, consisting of varsity and sub-varsity, took place over the 8-kilometer course. The course is run with loops around flat grass fields, and a large “teardrop loop” on narrow dirt trails in the woods. There are only a few small hills over the last mile, as well as solid, compact dirt trails, resulting in very fast times.
The men’s varsity race got off to an exciting start as a mystery runner took control of the race from the gun. Spectators’ jaws dropped when they saw him gap the field only 600 meters into the race, leaving everyone to question, “Who is that?” His uniform read American International College, and many mistook him for Glarius Rop – the defending Division II Northeast Regional champion, and 3-time Division II cross country All American from AIC. However, this was not Glarius, but a 22 year old freshman named Michael Biwott from Kapsowar, Kenya.
Biwott dominated the race, extending his lead and cruising through the line in a time of 23:56.16, securing the victory by nearly 25 seconds over Boston University’s Rich Peters (24:21.04). Silas Talbot of Dartmouth took third (24:24.34), while Boston College claimed the fourth and fifth spots with Louis Serafini (24:30.31) and Jordan Hamm (24:30.53), respectively.
Dartmouth College took the team title with a total of 83 points, placing 3 harriers in the top 20, and all 7 in the top 50. Boston College was second (123 points), followed by Yale (142), Boston University (156), and Tufts (169) to round out the top 5 (full results here).
Twenty three runners were able to break the 25 minute barrier, and among them several set personal best times on the 8k course, namely freshman Wesley Gallagher from Northeastern. Gallagher was Northeastern’s top finisher with a time of 24:42.72 for 12th overall and awarded All-New England honors, and was the top freshman (other than 22 year old Biwott) in the race.
The men’s sub-varsity race also proved to be fast and competitive. Junior Ryan Laemel of Yale University was the top finisher in a time of 25:26.24. Senior James Glover, who was second overall (25:36.28), led Boston College to a first place team finish. Boston College put five of their runners in the top 12 and captured the victory with 34 points over Tufts University (47 points). The full results can be found here.