Benjamin A. Schmeckpeper, a junior in electrical engineering and computer science, won the New England Division III Regional Cross Country Championship race on Saturday, Nov. 15, becoming the first MIT harrier to take the title in 22 years. After his win at Cumberland, Maine, he will advance to the Division III Nationals at Hanover College in Indiana on Nov. 22.
Last year, Schmeckpeper, who hails from Shorewood, Wis., became MIT's youngest-ever cross-country All-America runner with a 32nd-place finish at the nationals held in Northfield, Minn.
Struggling against freezing temperatures and wind gusts up to 30 mph, Schmeckpeper took the lead in Saturday's eight-kilometer race about a mile before the finish line, then proceeded to expand his lead and win by a 10-second margin. His 25:45 finish bested the 26:22 record previously set by Stan Pyle of Wheaton College, giving Schmeckpeper an unofficial record because the starting line had to be moved due to frozen ground.
MIT regularly competes at the national championships. Dan Feldman (S.B. 2002) finished in fourth place in 2001, tying the best MIT finish ever. The team is coached by 21-year veteran Halston Taylor, head coach of the cross-country and the indoor and outdoor track and field teams at the Institute.