TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Their goal was simple and lofty all at once, and they pulled it off. The Bates men's cross country team placed sixth at Saturday's NCAA Division III Championship, up one spot from their seventh-place showing a year ago.
With 253 points, the Bobcats repeated as New England's top team at nationals, trailing only North Central (160), Calvin (175), Haverford (180), Wisconsin-La Crosse (183) and Washington University (215). Bates edged NESCAC rival and seventh-place team Tufts (260) by seven points, tying the 1977 team for Bates' best team finish ever at the NCAA Championship.
Junior Tully Hannan (West Hartford, Conn.), Bates' lone All-American last year, not only repeated but ran the best race of his career, crossing the finish line in fifth place among 280 runners overall, Bates' highest national finish since Justin Easter '03 finished third in 2002. Hannan, who was 27th overall at 2011 nationals, covered the 8-kilometer course in 24:39.9, 13.1 seconds behind race winner Tim Nelson of Wisconsin-Stout. Hannan finished 3.6 seconds ahead of seventh place.
Junior Mike Martin (Slatersville, R.I.), Bates' top runner at both the NESCAC and NCAA Regional championship races, came in second for the Bobcats in 25:21.5, good for 51st place. Junior Noah Graboys (Glencoe, Ill.) joined his classmates as Bates' third finisher in 25:35.8 (79th).
Senior Ken Whitney (West Hartford, Conn.) was fourth for Bates in 25:47.8 (106th place), followed closely behind by senior captain Andrew Wortham (Newton, Mass.) in 25:47.3 (108th), completing Bates' scoring. Sophomore John Stansel (Newburyport, Mass.), Bates' youngest runner in the race, finished in 26:27.7 (207th), and senior James LePage (Cumberland, Maine) was 274th (29:15.4).
Immediately after Bates' men raced, the Bobcat women's team took the course and finished 19th overall, in their first trip to NCAAs as a team since 1997. It is the first year that both Bates' men's and women's teams both earned team bids to nationals.