In regards to the business-like attitude with which the men’s cross-country team has dispatched all Division III comers this year, it is fitting that the New England Championships were held at Babson College Flight business school. When the dust settled from the footsteps of 500 feet straining and striding their way across Babson’s rolling trails and flat fields, the #1 ranked Ephmen showed they too know the basics of a job well done, as they brought home their seventh-straight New England title.
The Ephs 62 points gave them a comfortable 33-point win over Keene State. Tufts finished in third place, only three points back of Keene.
As usual, the Ephs were led by exceptional performances by co-captains Paul Alsdorf ’99 and Dan McCue ’99. As was the case at NESCAC’s, these two Ephmen and Amherst’s Rob Mitchell broke away from the rest of the lead pack with approximately one mile and a half to go.
A half mile later, it was two-time cross-country all-American Alsdorf running all alone. Alsdorf cruised in ten seconds ahead of second place in 24:55, an incredible 56 seconds under the course record.
Apparently Alsdorf was born for this sort of thing: “The race was the most natural I have ever run. I can’t say that I planned any big move with a mile to go or had any complex strategy. I just kind of looked around, and there was no one there. I guess I just felt good.”
As Alsdorf was crossing the line, McCue was battling it out with Mitchell. A national champion in the 800 and 1500 meters, Mitchell is known for his withering kick, so few gave the more endurance minded McCue a chance in the last 100 meters. McCue reminded the onlookers that a cross-country race is more than swift feet when he surged tactically just before the line to nip Mitchell before he had a chance to respond.
Finishing first and second in what was probably the most talented New England field in the last decade, Alsdorf and McCue proved again that they are two of the top runners in the nation. Their impressive finish is not completely unprecedented in Williams history, as Marzuki Stevens and Jeremy Perry took the top two places in New England in 1994. Williams took the national team title that year, as Perry went on to win the national meet and Stevens finished eighth.
Tim Campbell ’01 and Dusty Lopez ’01 earned All-New England honors with their thirteenth and sixteenth place finishes. Last year Campbell posted the fastest freshman 5000-meter time in the nation, but injuries kept him out of the lineup much of this cross-country season. His outstanding race on Saturday shows that he is back in fine form and ready to contribute to an already powerful Williams lineup.
Lopez’s race was simply another in a remarkable string of improvements that has carried him from fourteenth position on the Williams team to one of the top runners in the region. He attributes his success to summer training back on the farm in Trout Lake, Washington: “I ran about 600 more miles this summer than last summer, and I don’t regret a single one.”
Jeff Edmonds ’99 and Andy Anderson ’99 struggled through slightly off days to finish thirtieth and thirty-second, good enough for honorable mentions at the award stand. Coach Farwell praised the team’s composure and effort this weekend and is excited about next week’s race. “We had some really outstanding performances today, and we are on track to really put it all together next week,” said Farwell. “We have had such strong senior leadership all season; this is one of the tightest teams I have coached.”
With his unprecedented seventh straight New England title, Farwell has to be considered among the top collegiate coaches in the nation. This Saturday is the day that all of these harriers have been looking towards since they stepped out of their doors for that first ten-miler back in June.
The national meet will be held at Dickinson College in southern Pennsylvania. The top-ranked Ephs are looking for another title to add to their previous two this decade.