After landing impressive times at the Atlantic Regional Championships earlier in November, both senior Andy Gallagher and freshman Jack Leahy were poised to make a couple dominating runs when they headed west to Terre Haute, Ind. on Nov. 17 to compete in the 2012 NCAA Division III Men’s Cross Country Championship.
For the first time all season, the Lions were in unfamiliar territory. Typically using experience to their advantage, the duo did not know what to expect as both were making their first appearance at Nationals. Despite facing the unknown, Gallagher and Leahy wore their blue and gold uniforms proudly and were up to any challenge ahead of them.
“It was nothing like I’ve ever seen before,” Gallagher said. “Everyone deserved to be there so the field itself was pretty much full of good athletes.”
Of the 280 runners competing, Gallagher finished around the middle of the bunch with a time of 26:11.4, good enough for 167th place.
“I was just in a pack the entire time which made it a weird feeling not knowing where (I was positioned) for the whole race,” Gallagher added. “I was hoping for a top-100 performance so I am a little bit disappointed that I didn’t get that, but overall, I am just happy of having the experience of going to Nationals.”
As for Leahy, he too was also happy for making the meet in Indiana. Although he did not run as fast as he had planned with a time of 26:23.0, he knows that he has three more years to improve.
“I wanted to place in the upper half of the runners, but that didn’t end up happening unfortunately,” Leahy said. “I may not have ran my best (that day), but overall I was just happy to be there because I am a freshman.”
Being young definitely has its benefits for Leahy. Although he finished lower than he had liked in 202nd place, after breaking it down, Leahy’s performance was very impressive. Of the 280 runners competing at Nationals, only 28 of them were freshmen. With this feat alone, this future 2016 graduate knows he has a bright future ahead of him.
“It was great to end my freshman year on a high note,” he said. “Now that I made it to Nationals, it made me realize that I need to make that my goal for seasons to come.”
Along with both Gallagher and Leahy making their Nationals debut, the Lions had another accomplishment. For the first time since 2008, the College’s men’s team sent multiple runners to Nationals. Although both would have wanted to have done a little better, they agree that this was a major win for their cross country program.
“I am happy with (what Leahy has done) because as a freshman, it really gets the younger guys realizing that they are capable of making it to Nationals which is something that the older guys didn’t see as much,” Gallagher said. “Now he can show the younger kids that (with his experience), in the near future, they can make it to Nationals as a team.”