Running against quality NESCAC opposition for the first time of this young season, the Williams men’s cross-country team came through with a decisive victory at their home meet on Saturday.
Bates brought its big-name All-Americans Mike Danahy and Matt Twiest, but the Eph harriers showed the depth that they will rely on all season in capturing an easy first-place team finish in the inaugural Purple Valley Classic.
Williams’ home course advantage was neutralized by the fact that the race was held at Mt. Greylock High School on a completely new course. Last week’s rainy weather helped level the playing field even further by turning parts of the course into thick, deep mud.
By race time, the rain was gone but its effects were evident on the course as Williams toed the starting line for its first eight-kilometer race of the season. Bates’ top runners Danahy and Twiest predictably grabbed an early lead, but by the first mile it was clear that two individual stars wouldn’t be enough to take the team championship from the deep and competitive Williams squad.
The Ephs wasted no time in establishing a good pack just off the early leaders. The rolling hills and mud gradually worked to pare down the field until by mile three, the Williams men were in command of the race.
A tight group of five Ephmen trailed only the two Bates front-runners and worked together to keep up the pressure on the two All-Americans. By the time the runners emerged from the final trail with less than a mile to go, the race was all but over. The top five Williams men all finished in the top ten overall, putting up an excellent score of only 24 points to Bates’ second place score of 47.
For Williams, Dusty Lopez ’01 finished second overall with a time of 27:00, followed by Tim Campbell ’01 in fourth place with 27:07. Reed Harlow ’01 was next across the line in 27:11 for fifth place. Wes Reutimann ’02 took an unfortunate tumble on a slippery downhill during the last mile but recovered to finish sixth with a strong time of 27:18. Tri-captain Shad Miller ’00 closed out the Williams scoring with his seventh place finish in 27:37. Jay Slowik ’01, rebounding from an illness that prevented him from finishing the race last week, and tri-captain Teddy Wasserman ’00 rounded out the Williams top seven.
“It felt like we were just cruising out there,” Miller remarked on the relatively easy victory. “The front pack of five guys was really relaxed and running smooth today.”
Coach Pete Farwell was pleased with his runners’ effort this week, commenting, “The times from this race are a bit slow, but that isn’t really representative of the race. Considering the course and the conditions out there, any time in the 27-minute range is great.”
Williams’ victory was all the more impressive in light of the fact that all of the talented Eph First-year runners ran in a separate JV race. The first-years put on an equally strong display in taking five of the top ten places in their 5-kilometer race. Justin Wilson ’03 and Neal Hannen ’03 shared the top spot, finishing dead even in 16:58. Karl Remsen and Chris Garvin followed their classmates in third and fourth place, respectively.
Indeed, the only thing that seemed to go badly for the Ephs on Saturday was the traditional pre-race bear toss. The team’s long-time unofficial mascot survived a scare last week in Montreal, when several Williams runners reacted quickly to thwart Wesleyan’s ill-planned attempt at bear-napping.
Weak bear tosses aside, this week’s meet bodes well for the Williams squad as it travels to SUNY—Geneseo next week. The team will be running at close to full strength for the first time as its march to the New England Division III championships continues.