Aug. 18, 2004
Providence, RI - The men's cross country team enters the 2004 season very differently than any previous year. The team returns as the reigning Ivy League Heptagonal champions, the first men's title in Brown's history, and expectations are high for this talented crew.
"On paper we are as strong or even stronger than last year," said coach John Gregorek. "We return our top two and we have the potential to once again lead the league and then go on to be one of the top twenty teams in the nation."
Coach Gregorek's top two men are arguably the most daunting pair in the league; each has the ability to be a top contender for the individual league title. The 2004 team will be captained by Patrick Tarpy, who returns for his senior campaign after gaining a place in Brown's record books last season with his breakthrough race at the New England Championships. Winning the eight kilometer race in 23:57, not only did he set a school record for the distance, he was the first American man to win the competition in twelve years. Tarpy's twelfth place finish at the Heptagonal meet earned him second team All-Ivy distinction for the season.
Also returning for his senior year, Jeff Gaudette will be leading the team not only on the course, but in experience as well. Gaudette followed up his fifth place and first team All-Ivy effort at Heptagonals with a fourth place finish at NCAA Regionals, earning an individual berth to the NCAA National Championships; he returned to Providence with All-American status, the first for Brown since 1988. Gregorek anticipates a successful season for Gaudette: "He continues to be a guy that other teams look to beat at Heps, but at the same time Heps is just the beginning. We're looking for him to place even higher this year at Nationals."
Though these two men are the proven leaders, there is ample depth on the roster to support their front-running. "We have the strongest one-two punch in the league, and people can see that," said Gaudette, "but what they haven't seen yet is that we also have younger guys with the potential and ambition necessary to once again be at the top." While graduation losses include last year's 3, 4, 5, and 7 position men, Gregorek has already identified the talent he expects to step-up and fill the gaps.
Juniors Owen Washburn and Jordan Kinley, sophomore Chris Burke, and senior Michael Piche all had successful outdoor seasons last spring and will be strong players in the Bears' quest to retain the Heptagonal title. Washburn posted a time of 14:28 in the five kilometer distance, ranking him in Brown's top ten and making him highly competitive on the Ivy distance scene. "We need to step up and duplicate what the seniors did last year," comments Kinley, a returning varsity competitor and scorer. "We have the solid runners necessary. The factor in repeating will be having everyone stay healthy throughout this year."
Gregorek cites an incredibly talented rising sophomore class and incoming freshmen as men not to be overlooked. Frosh Ari Zamir is a "gutsy runner" boasting personal bests of 9:18 in the two mile and 4:15 in the mile and a reputation as one of New Jersey's best cross country runners. Also arriving with the class of 2008 will be Nick Sarro and Ozzie Myers, both expected to make immediate impacts on the team.
"The primary goal will be to once again take the team title at Heptagonals, and then going to the next level and earning a team berth to NCAA Nationals," explained Gregorek. To reach this goal, the Bears will attend the highly competitive Pre-National meet on October 16, which will help in capturing not only vital points, but the attitude and desire necessary to earn a return trip to the course. Gaudette added, "since it's held in the same location as Nationals, this is the only way you can actually experience the course and the highest level of competition in the country. The atmosphere of the meet will hopefully help to serve as motivation to get back there. It'll be an amazing experience for our team."
With preseason talk, rankings, and predictions circulating, the Brown men have the advantage of entering the 2004 season as champions, experiencing both the pride of success and the demand to repeat; Gregorek prefers to keep things in perspective: "We won't let the pressure get out of hand. The key to this season will be having the right attitude. We will train hard and let our running do the talking for us." The season will begin for the Bears on September 11 in Easton, Massachusetts at the Stonehill College Invitational.