BRUNSWICK, Maine – The Brandeis University men's cross country team showed great improvement today at the NCAA Division III New England Regional championships as the Judges moved up nine spots from a year ago to finish in 14th place out of 54 squads. Brandeis finished with 411 points, 22 ahead of Bridgewater State and 26 points behind Southern Maine.
The Judges' top performer was junior Josh Lombardo (Westbrook, Maine/Westbrook), who was running in his home state. Lombardo, who placed 100th a year ago, set a new p.r. for 8,000 meters with a time of 25:57.26 to come in 41st out of 384 competitors. He lowered his lifetime best by nine seconds to break 26 minutes for the first time. Lombardo was about eight seconds out of All-New England placement among the top 35.
Next up for the Judges about 10 seconds off of Lombardo's pace was classmate Mark Murdy (Plantsville, Conn./Southington), who came in 49th with a time of 26:07.31. Murdy was the team's seventh runner as rookie, when he placed 133rd, but missed his entire sophomore year to injury. This was the first time this season he was Brandeis's second runner, finishing first three times and third last time out at UAAs.
In third place was sophomore Matthew Driben (Reading , Pa./ Wyomissing). After placing 133rd as a rookie, Driben made a nice improvement by 64 spots into 69th with a time of 26:19.99. He was just two-tenths of a second off his lifetime best, set at UAAs two weeks ago.
Rookie Casey Brackett (Wakefield, Mass. / Wakefield Memorial) had his best performance as a Judge, coming in fourth on the squad in his New Englands debut. He cracked 27 minutes for the first time with a finish of 26:59.13, 41 seconds faster than his previous collegiate best. Senior Dan Curley (Norwood, Mass. / Norwood) was Brandeis's final official scorer, coming in 141st place with a time of 27:20.94.
Seniors Alec Rodgers (Wakefield, Mass./Wakefield Memorial) and Brian Gao (Hopkinton, Mass./Hopkinton) both made their Regional debuts, finishing in 171st and 205th place with times of 27:53.31 and 28:20.38, respectively.
The Judges' season comes to a close with the New England championships. They will return four of their top five competitors next year.