The Massachusetts Institute of Technology long has been regarded as one of the top colleges in the country for academics.
Lawrence High alumnus Roy Wedge is proof MIT has pretty fair athletics, too.
Wedge, an MIT senior, recently placed eighth in the 10,000-meter run at the Snowflake Classic in Medford, Mass., in 32:35.76.
“The big meet for us in track season is the (NCAA Division) III regional championships,” Wedge said. “My 10K hit the qualifying time that you need to hit to race at that race. My big goal is to get top three or try to win the regional 10K.”
Between the 10K in outdoor track and the 8K in cross country, longer distances have been Wedge’s strong suit.
Asked which season he enjoyed more, Wedge said cross country had a couple of extra elements that add to each race.
“I like the scenery in cross country,” Wedge said. “You always have to race the course as well. It is less of a person-versus-person. It is also a head-to-head competition, though, so there is always that extra person to race, I guess.”
Wedge started his senior campaign strong by leading MIT to a 16th straight New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference cross country championship. Wedge won the men’s 8,000-meter race with a time of 25:07.19.
The Engineers have dominated the NEWMAC since its inaugural year in 1998.
MIT cross country coach Halston Taylor said Wedge played a crucial role in the Engineers’ last four NEWMAC titles.
“He’s had a huge impact,” Taylor said. “Could we have won it without him? Yeah, probably. He’s made it a lot easier because he’s consistently one of the top two or three runners on the team.”
Wedge was named the NEWMAC Runner of the Year and went on to place 44th overall at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in Hanover, Ind.
When Wedge committed to run for the Engineers, LHS cross country coach Brian “Chip” Anderson knew he would fit in well academically and athletically at MIT.
“Well, you know, it is nice to be smart, too,” Anderson said. “He had that combination of being smart and working hard … great work ethic and just the ability to run.”
The combination of Wedge’s talents helped LHS make history in 2008 when the Lions won the 6A state cross country championship, snapping Shawnee Mission Northwest’s streak of 14 straight titles. Wedge nearly won the individual state title as well, finishing less than a second behind Brayden Barrientez of Haysville-Campus, but the team’s success was more important to him.
“I was actually in fifth with like a half-mile to go, and a runner from a different school who I didn’t know started talking to me and told me, ‘You should go catch those guys,’ or something like that. And I was like, ‘Ha!’ So I tried and ended up passing a couple of people. Getting second was kind of a surprise. I hadn’t expected to win. Everything was overshadowed by the team winning.”
Wedge did not leave any doubt about who the state champion was in 2009, winning by 26 seconds and leading LHS to a second team title.
“He wants to do what is best for the team. Everything he did was for the team,” Anderson said. “He had some people ahead of him like Ben Wilson who inspired him to do the team type of stuff. They just all clicked together, and everything just came together for those few years.”
Man of many talents
Along with running cross country and track at Lawrence High, Wedge was a member of the Lions’ swim team and was an all-state chess player. Since Wedge has run year-round while in college, competing in cross country and indoor and outdoor track, he has not been able to keep up with his other hobbies.
“Chess has kind of fallen to the wayside,” Wedge said. “I didn’t really have time. Every week, there is a day we don’t run to give our legs rest. Sometimes we aqua-jog or jog in the pool, so sometimes during that I’ll swim some laps and do some practice stuff. Other than that, I’ve pretty much just been running since I got into college.”
Wedge transitioned fairly well from high school to college distance running, but he did admit that the challenging academic courses offered at MIT did take some getting used to.
“It has not been the easiest, but it has definitely been manageable,” Wedge said. “I just haven’t taken as many classes as the non-athletes take.”
Although Wedge does not have a job lined up following graduation, he is pursuing a career in the field of computer science.
Taylor believes there is one characteristic Wedge displays regularly in cross country that will continue to help him for the rest of his life.
“Competitiveness,” Taylor said. “A lot of runners look for a way to fail, and I don’t mean intentionally. They think about, ‘Will I die in a race if I keep this up? Who is going to catch me?’ So they are thinking about surviving instead of winning. Although Roy can fall into this trap as well, when he is intent on winning, he is a very good competitor. You have to really beat him to beat him.”