Friday, December 13, 2013
Sam Seekins and Molly Carl faced the decision most top distance runners encounter on the trail: chase or be chased. Carry the pressure of holding the lead or enjoy the rush of coming from behind.
Seekins did both last Saturday. The junior runner from South China and Bowdoin College won the 5-mile men's Maine collegeiate cross country championships after retaking the lead late in the race.
Carl, from York and a senior at the University of Southern Maine, held the lead throughout to win the shorter, 5-kilometer women's race for the second time. Her tactics were the opposite of last year when she passed the leaders about 400 meters from the finish.
"I didn't plan on leading the race," said Carl. "Usually I let the race dictate my pace. This time I found myself out front."
Behind her was a pack of eight runners. She surged with about 800 meters left. Gabrielle Naranja of Bates was the only one not to fall away. She trailed Carl by three seconds.
Race experience helped Carl feel in control of Saturday's meet, run over USM's home course in Gorham. Recent rain did not make the trail slick or mucky. Carl said she ran comfortably over familiar ground. It's a speed course over mostly flat or gently rolling terrain.
Seekins ran with fellow Bowdoin junior Coby Horowitz with teammate Nicholas Saba just off their pace.
"The first couple of miles, Coby and I let the Bates runners lead and see what kind of pace they were running," said Seekins.
Seekins and Horowitz moved ahead for the third mile before a pack of three Bates runners, led by Mike Martin, went ahead. Seekins and his teammate still felt relaxed.
"We caught them at about 200 meters," said Seekins. "I had a great kick." He won by three seconds over Horowitz.
"I like being in front but not in the lead," said Seekins. Until the very end, of course.
Julian Gazzeloni, a USM junior, finished ninth, the only runner not from Bates, Bowdoin or Colby to crack the top 20. Bates won the men's meet by a point over Bowdoin and the women's meet by 23 points.
Bates, Bowdoin and Colby traditionally have depth that USM and other Maine small colleges can't match. The meet did showcase the strength of distance running in Maine, from the nationally ranked private schools to individuals on state college teams such as USM, which was fourth in the team scores in both races. Morgan Beede (Augusta) and Hannah Damron (Windham), both underclassmen, finished 16th and 17th for USM.
Carl has a two-week break before USM enters the Little East Conference championship at Westfield, Mass., on Oct. 27. The ECAC and NCAA New England regional championship meets follow in early November. The big prize is the NCAA Division III championship at Rose-Hulman College in Terre Haute, Ind.
Bowdoin hosts the competitive New England Small College Athletic Conference championship meet Oct. 27.
"My legs feel fine," said Seekins. "But it will be good to have a break."
Coach Nicky Pearson's field hockey team plays the final home game of the season Saturday against Trinity. A road game at Tufts four days later ends the regular season. Bowdoin is currently 11-1. A win in either game or a Wesleyan loss in any of its three remaining conference games will give Bowdoin home-field advantage in the NESCAC quarterfinals. Junior Katie Riley (Hingham, Mass.) has nine goals and four assists over Bowdoin's last five games. That includes her winning goal in the 1-0 overtime win over Amherst. Bowdoin is the defending NESCAC champion and won its third of three national championships in 2010. Senior Hillary Cederna (Cumberland) helped the volleyball team reach 20 wins for the second straight season last weekend. The Polar Bears are 20-2 overall, 7-1 in NESCAC.
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