The 2013 Springfield men’s cross country team has had a lot of positives to cheer about this fall. Whether it was finishing in the top half of the field as a team in the first three meets, or competing against the top schools in New England in the New England Championships, coach Bryan Brown and company have a lot to build off of as the team prepares for the NEWMAC Championships.
One of the surprises to this point in the season has been the emergence of a freshman runner competing in the top five for the Pride.
Brishen Dearborn of Wethersfield, Conn., has welcomed the challenge of running cross country at the collegiate level, and Springfield is happy to have him.
“The team is really close, and we still hang out outside of practice quite a bit,” Dearborn said.
Part of what makes college athletics much more difficult than high school is the time and effort it requires. No longer are you only competing for three months in a particular sport. In college, even out of season teams have mandatory practices and lifts.
Dearborn has managed some obstacles to make this transition to Division III cross country look easy.
“Running in college is definitely more demanding than it was in high school,” Dearborn said. “The workouts are longer and harder, and it’s just more time-consuming in general.”
Believe it or not, Dearborn has been awaiting the opportunity to have an increased workload and mileage this fall.
“My high school practices never consisted of much, and for the last year or so I’d been waiting to pick up the intensity, and I feel like this is just what I’d been waiting for,” Dearborn said.
In his first-ever meet in a Springfield uniform, the athletic training major finished fifth on the team at the Smith Invitational on Sept. 7. On that day, Dearborn finished with a time of 18:31.52, good enough for 61st in the 10-team meet.
“I’m pretty satisfied,” Dearborn said, in regards to his play early on. To go along with the Smith Invitational, Dearborn has competed at the varsity level at the UMASS Dartmouth Invitational and the New England Championships. He also finished first on Springfield running for the junior varsity team at the Purple Valley Classic earlier in the year.
“My goal was to make the varsity team, which I did, and to make it into the post-season,” said Dearborn, who went on to add that setting a time goal for this season was difficult because he is running 8K races, as opposed to the 5Ks he ran in high school. “I set a goal that I thought would be challenging but achievable,” Dearborn said. He added that after the first couple of meets, he believes that his goal is within reach.
Dearborn is quick to give a lot of credit to his teammates and coach for his early season success. He is the only freshman to finish in the top five for the Pride so far this fall.
“The faster guys definitely help push me during workouts and races, and we’re all motivated and encouraged by them and Coach Brown to give all we have,” Dearborn said.
One thing that most college freshman struggle with in the early going is time management, which is even more prevalent with student athletes. Between classes and practices, there is little time left to do homework, eat or even just to relax.
“The most difficult part [of being a student athlete] would probably be having to manage my time between classes and practice,” Dearborn said. “I have some evening classes and an occasional meeting that sometimes interfere.”
There is a high level of demand that rests on a student athlete’s shoulders, but Dearborn has seemed to master it.
This coming Saturday, Oct. 19, the Pride will travel to Connecticut College in Waterford, Conn., for their last meet before the NEWMAC Championships. Dearborn acknowledges that the team is short on numbers, but still believes they can make some noise.
“We’re all really close together as far as time spread, and I think if we keep pushing each other then we definitely have some potential,” Dearborn said.
The NEWMAC Championships will be held on Nov. 3 in Boston, Mass.