Hoping to finish the season on a high note, the Harvard men’s cross country team headed to New York to compete in the IC4A championships, while top runner Tom Purnell went to Terre Haute, Ind. to compete at the NCAA National Championships.
Both parties turned in solid performances, as Purnell clocked in with a time of 32 minutes, 6 seoncds to improve on his previous year’s performance, while the rest of the team took home a hard fought fourth-place finish to close out the season.
Competing in a field containing the best runners in the nation, junior Purnell represented the Crimson at Terre Haute, looking to improve on his performance from the prior year.
Ultimately, Purnell was able to improve on his previous performance by 10 seconds, while placing 170th, 28 spots higher than last season’s showing. Oregon sophomore Edward Cheserek repeated as national champion with a time of 30:19.4.
The race ended up being a much slower and tactical race than in years past, as the conditions made the competitors adopt a less aggressive approach.
Little separated Purnell from the lead at the 3k mark, as the junior was four seconds off the leaders despite sitting in 146th place. However, the England native was unable to keep up with the group as it started to pull away.
“For a tall guy like Tom, there was nowhere to run and move up.” Harvard coach Jason Saretsky said. “We would’ve been really pleased walking away with him in the top 100 and he was just a little bit off that but the way [nationals] goes, if you’re a little bit off, the points add up quick.”
Despite being further back at the 8k mark, the Harvard runner was able to use a quick 6:27 2k finish to close out strong and gain 10 spots, ultimately finishing in 170th.
While Purnell was unable to challenge for All-American, Saretsky believes the runner gained invaluable experience for a possible return to nationals the next year.
“It was a solid run, an improvement on last year,” Saretsky said. “I think [he walked] away from the course feeling like there was some unfinished business. There’s some real hunger and motivation to be back next year.”
The rest of the team traveled down to New York to close out its season at the IC4A Championships, competing against squads from the Northeast.
Captain Will Geiken led the team with a 3rd place finish, clocking in at 25:19.9, edging out George Mason’s Michael Conway by .3 seconds in a tight push down the chute in his last race for the Crimson.
“I got out into the flat and got into third.” Geiken said. “It came down to the line and I just had to really dig to make sure he didn’t pass me.”
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