The Brandeis men’s and women’s cross country teams dominated this past weekend at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Invitational. 

After the men and women came in fifth out of 33 teams and first out of 37 teams, respectively, at last year’s meet, the Judges had high expectations coming into this year.  With veterans beginning to cement their leadership roles and excited rookies looking to leave their mark, the teams had every reason to believe they were going to be successful.  Out of 40 respective teams, the men’s team came in second overall with the women coming in third overall. 

The men’s team competed in the eight-kilometer run, which saw over 300 competitors line up to race from all across the Northeast.  Ryan Stender ’18 led the way for the Judges, finishing in second by just two seconds and putting up an astounding time of 25:25 on a 5:07 mile pace.  While Stender was a true leader at the event, this was a full team effort for Brandeis.  Fellow senior Mitchell Hutton ’18 blew past his competition and earned a sixth-place finish of 25:33 on a 5:09 mile pace.  Even though the veterans looked strong in this one, rookie Luke Ostrander ’21 wanted to make his presence known.  In just the second meet of the young season, the first-year speedster managed to find his way into the top 10, finishing 10th overall with a time of 25:44 on a fantastic 5:11 mile pace.  Stender and Hutton were able to clearly demonstrate that the team is in capable hands this season after losing last year’s graduating class.  Ostrander gave fans a hopeful glimpse into the future; the team has a massive amount of potential and talented runners like Ostrander are just starting to warm up to collegiate competition. 

The women’s team competed in the five-kilometer run, which also saw approximately 300 runners ready to compete.  As expected, the Bryson sisters put their incredible athleticism on display once again.  Emily Bryson ’19 came in second with a scorching time of 18:03 on a 5:49 mile pace.  Julia Bryson ’19 was not far behind, coming in eighth overall at 18:47 on a 6:03 mile pace.  Danielle Bertaux ’20 was equally impressive as she flew into a top-15 finish.  Bertaux came 13th with an overall time of 18:59 on a 6:07 mile pace.  While the Bryson sisters are well-known leaders on the women’s team, up-and-coming standouts like Bertaux could be the future of this squad.  The team appears to be in excellent shape with a plethora of runners ready to rake in points for the Judges.Meaghan Barry ’19 was another big part of the Judges’ third place finish, as she came in 22nd with a time of 19:14 on a 6:12 mile pace.  

With both teams finishing in the top three spots out of 40 respective teams, Brandeis Cross Country has established itself as a force to be reckoned with this season.  This impressive meet comes after first place respective finishes for both teams at the Wellesley College Invitational on Sept. 1.  Runners of all class years have been showing off their impressive talent right from the start, and the teams look incredibly well off for the present and future seasons alike. 

Both the men’s and women’s teams will look to build on their immense success on Sept. 30 at the Keene State College Invitational at Keene State College. 

With two consecutive standout performances, expectations will be high for these Brandeis runners. There will be hype for these recently successful runners and it is just a matter of weeks until fans will see if they can live up to it.

The Keene State Invitational was immensely successful for both Brandeis teams when they competed in it three years ago. The men’s team came in first while the women’s team came in second overall. Given how well the Judges have been racing lately, there is no reason to believe that they cannot have similar success to that of three years ago.

 It will be exciting to see who else is going to step up into the spotlight and carry these talented squads to victory throughout the rest of the season.