Men’s track a surprising second at ECACs

The goal of the Williams College men’s track and field team at the ECAC championships on Saturday was to achieve NCAA qualifying marks and to prepare for next week’s NCAA Championships. Something strange happened along the way. The Ephs, without a full squad, challenged for the team title. In the end, the team completed an excellent second place effort on the strength of several strong personal performances. The top three team scores were College of New Jersey, 80; Williams, 48; and SUNY-Cortland, 46.

Two Williams athletes won individual championships on Saturday: Tri-captain Paul Alsdorf ’99 tuned up for nationals by winning the 3000 meter run with a time of 8:26.82. Alsdorf is set to compete in the 5000 meter run next week at NCAAs. Last year he placed fourth, earning All-American status, while this year he is expected to compete for first.

The Ephs other winner on the day was super-senior Brian Hennessey, who ran away with the 800 meter in a time of 1:53.80. Hennessey has qualified provisionally for NCAAs in the event based on his performance last week at the NEIAAA championships.

With the majority of the sprint corps injured or sick, it was the distance runners who pulled in the lion’s share of points for Williams. Yuneng Li ’99, fresh off his school record performance in the 1000 meter last week, returned to the track Saturday and took third place in 2:32.43. Following closely behind Hennessey in the 800 was breakout freshman Kevin Reilly, who placed sixth with a time of 1:56.14.

The 5000 meter run produced two places for the Ephs. Dan McCue ’99 continued his excellent season as he was the third man across the line, with a time of 15:02.13. McCue has also qualified provisionally for nationals. Shad Miller ’00 had the best 5000 meter run of his career, taking sixth with a personal record time of 15:15.39.

The relays were a highlighted by the 4 x 400. The team of Hennessey, Ed Rossier ’01, Trevor Bayliss ’99 and tri-captain Aaron Decamp ’99 has been looking for a breakout qualifying time all season and they got it on Saturday. Their time of 3:19.61 appears to be among the top ten nationally this season and earned them second place. Like all of the provisional qualifiers, they will have to sweat it out until the NCAA announces the field. Williams put its best four 800 meter men together for the 4 x 800 relay and the team came away with third place in 7:52. The quad consisted of Reilly, Jay Slowik ’01, Li, and Hennessey, who completed a big triple.

Other Ephs who did not place but had personal best performances included Slowik in the 1500, Dusty Lopez ’01 in the 5000 and senior Dave Nemeskal, who has emerged as a serious weapon for Williams in the shotput.

The indoor season is now complete for Williams, except for those elite who have qualified for the NCAA championships to be held at Ohio Northern University on March 12-13.