Nov. 3, 2003
Providence, RI - The Brown Men made history on Friday, October 31 as they captured the Ivy League Heptagonal Championship crown for the first time ever. It was truly a stellar day for John Gregorek's harriers, with four men making the All-Ivy teams. Junior Jeff Gaudette (Biddeford, ME) led the Bears, coming in fifth overall to take First Team honors. Junior Patrick Tarpy (Yarmouth, ME) and Seniors Matthew Emond (Green Harbor, MA) and Michael DeCoste (Duxbury, MA) took 12th, 13th, and 14th places to earn Second Team honors. All five scorers were in the top 16 of the 90 man race. However, the Bears refuse to see this as a final high on their decorated season; NCAA Northeast Regionals will be held on a 10,000 meter course at Franklin Park in Boston on November 15.
Gaudette and Tarpy have provided excellent leadership to the Bears throughout the season, and the team will rely heavily upon their front-running heading into the highly competitive NCAA Northeast Regional meet. Tarpy placed first for the Bears through much of the season, including his standout performance at the New England Championships where he took the meet's individual crown. That day, he also had the honors of setting a school record and being the first American champion since 1989. Gaudette has made an impressive comeback from a calf injury that prohibited him from competing in early season meets. In his debut race of 2003, he placed sixth at the New England meet, and his 5th place performance at this year's Heptagonals was 46 seconds faster than last year. Gaudette is the Bears' top returner from last year's Regional meet, where he finished 18th out of a field of 223 runners. Each of these men have the potential to be top finishers in Boston.
In this historical race, the members of the senior class stepped up with solid performances, each man having his best race of the year. Their ability to repeat this effort will be key in their performance on November 15. Senior Captain Emond's leadership has been integral in his team's success. Emond has been a scorer in every race this season with several top finishes including his 7th place performance at the first race of the year, the Boston College Invitational. His experience will be even more vital in the Bears' success at Regionals. Emond will return to race Franklin Park as the Bears' second finisher at the 2002 Regionals, where he captured 30th place.
The Senior duo of DeCoste and Brendan O'Keefe has been given the credit for Brown's Ivy victory, providing the much needed depth to support Gaudette and Tarpy. DeCoste has had an amazing comeback campaign from a serious knee injury, and Gregorek accredited the strong pack finish to DeCoste and his ability to help the group of men stay together through the entire race. Debuting at the Iona Meet of Champions, DeCoste was Brown's third man, placing in the top 25 in the 158 man race. It is evident he only got stronger as he followed up with a 12th place finish in the New England Championships and a 14th place effort at Heptagonals. O'Keefe has had a troubled collegiate cross country career, but was able to pull everything together in time to be the Bears' essential fifth man; without his breakthrough race, the men would not have taken the title. Suffering through setbacks that plagued him early in the season, O'Keefe struggled on the varsity team, also making his debut at Iona, though with a disappointing finish. However, O'Keefe appeared to be a completely different athlete as he competed at Heptagonals on the same course. With two weeks of extremely strong workouts and confidence from his teammates, O'Keefe's final Heptagonal race was outstanding, as he raced with the Brown pack and came in 16th overall, just missing All-Ivy honors. A top-ten performer in the mile run, O'Keefe appears to have found his talent in the longer distances just in time.
Perhaps an overlooked component to the success of the Brown Bears was the presence of support from all fronts. The course was flooded with Brown alumni, parents, track and field team members, friends, and those from the cross country team unable to compete. Although some graduates reside in the New York area, many made the three-hour trip from Providence and beyond to watch the men make history, and their encouragement was unprecedented. The explosion heard throughout the park when the men's team score was tallied, declaring Brown the champion, was startling to those unfamiliar with the closeness of the Brown men and their supporters.
The men understand that they must use the win as momentum and regain focus for the upcoming NCAA competition. Look for Gregorek's men to be finely tuned and back in action on November 15, as they take on national powers such as Iona College and Providence College at the Northeast Regional Meet in Boston.