(Men's 8k race winner, Dave Bridgewater of Keene State College, leading the field and running near the historic Locust Barn at the Tufts Farm Course)


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Eighth Jumbo Invitational by John LaPoint

GRAFTON: Graftonís first intercollegiate sports event of the Fall 2004 season, the Eighth Jumbo Invitational cross country meet run Saturday at Tufts Vet Schoolís championship facility, featured a new womenís 6k course record set by All American Senior Carter Hamill of Amherst College. In what meet director and Tufts Varsity Menís Cross Country Coach Connie Putnam described as a blistering performance, Hamill completed the race in 21 minutes, 29 seconds, lowering the previous 6k standard set by Julia Benson of Williams College (21.41.31) by more than 12 seconds.

After the first half mile of the women's race, Hamill took complete command and was far ahead of the pack at the courseís two mile mark, on the short downhill loop near the historic Locust Barn and the Administration Building. Hamill, who has won three NCAA national championships in indoor (5,000 meter) and outdoor (10,000 meter) track meets, finished a full 1 minute, 2 seconds in front of her teammate, Shauneen Garrahan. Amherst won the womenís team event, placing six runners in the top 15 positions. Tufts womenís team, currently ranked 16th in the September 21st Division III National Poll, finished second. 102 women from nine college teams competed in the noon 6k race at The Farm Course on the Tufts campus at Grafton.

In the 8k menís competition, 132 men from 10 collegiate teams took to the starting line at 1:00 PM. Tufts menís team, currently ranked 7th in the nation, continued their strong at home performance from the 2003 season. Tufts placed eight runners in the top 20 positions, including second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh place positions by Senior Nathan Brigham, Junior Matthew Lacey, Sophomore Joshua Kennedy, Senior Brian McNamara, and Junior Matthew Fortin. Tufts dominated the men's team competition with a score of 22 points, 42 less than second place Keene State. (lowest five runners score wins in collegiate cross country) Keene State won the 2003 Jumbo Invitational with Tufts finishing second. Senior Dave Bridgewater of Keene State College won the menís individual race in a time of 26:02.70, 7.1 seconds ahead of second place finisher Nathan Brigham of Tufts. In all 132 collegiate men from ten colleges participated in the Jumbo Invitational.

The Tufts Farm Course is one of the most spectator friendly cross country venues in the country, with the championship women's 6K and menís 8k courses starting near the Vet Schoolís administration building and rising gently to a high central plateau overlooking virtually the entire property.
From this mid position of the still active farm field (hay and corn) it is possible to see virtually the entire championship course except for a small loop stretch located in Westboro through the woods. The CSX railroad tracks frame one side of the course and freight and passenger trains regularly run during the cross country meets.

Upcoming cross country events at The Farm Course in the Fall of 2004 include one of the country's largest one day intercollegiate athletic events, the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Cross Country Menís and Womenís Championships, set for Saturday, November 6th at 11:00 AM and 12:00 Noon. In 2003 236 men and 240 women representing 33 colleges competed at The Farm Course in these championship events. The Southern Worcester Country League High School Championship meet, including our own Grafton High School, will also be staged on the Farm Course at Tufts on Tuesday afternoon, October 28th.

Full men's and women's race results for the 2004 Jumbo Invitational can be found at : http://www.coolrunning.com/results/04/ma/Sep25_JumboC_set1.shtml