Barber leads men's cross country to 32nd place at NCAA Championships

Bates junior Tucker Barber led the way for the Bobcats at the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 23, 2019, placing 135th overall. (d3photography.com

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A great season ended with a hard-fought struggle for the No. 23 nationally ranked Bates men's cross country team, as the Bobcats placed 32nd at the 2019 NCAA Division III Championships held Saturday at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park.

Junior Tucker Barber (Wilton, Maine) finished 135th out of 280 individuals to lead Bates, covering the 8-kilometer course in 25:40.9. Barber was one of only three team members who raced at nationals in both 2018 and 2019.

Making the ninth team appearance in program history at the national meet, Bates scored 795 points, trailing 31st-place Oneonta by 40. Pomona-Pitzer was the surprise team champion with 164 points, while Williams was the top New England team in third place (183).

Following Barber for Bates was first-year Eli Boesch-Dining (Concord, N.H.), who was 209th overall in 26:09.8. Sophomore Henry Raff (Hailey, Idaho) placed 220th in 26:12.8, followed in the team scoring by junior captain Ryan Nealis (London, England) in 228th place (26:19.5) and senior captain Justin Levine (Boca Raton, Fla.) in 232nd at 26:21.1. Bates' scoring displacers were sophomores Bart Rust (Croton on Hudson, N.Y.) in 240th place (26:26.8) and Jackson Donahue (Princeton, N.J.) in 256th (26:40.2).

Previous team trips to the Division III Championships netted the Bates men a 12th-place finish out of 39 teams in 1975; sixth place among 52 teams in 1977; 10th-place finish out of 24 teams in 1999, 19th place out of 24 in 2004, seventh place out of 32 in 2011, sixth place out of 32 in 2012, 24th place out of 32 in 2013, and 26th place out of 32 in 2018.

Bates earned the trip with a fifth-place showing out of 54 teams at the NCAA New England Regional Championships last week at Bowdoin. Other highlights from the year included winning the Maine State Meet and placing fifth in the NESCAC Championships.