Over the last two weeks, the Williams men’s cross-country team raced in both its most competitive and least competitive official races of the season. On October 15, the Ephs traveled to Boston’s Franklin Park to compete in the Division I New England championships, which featured nationally-ranked Division I teams Providence and Brown, as well as quality Division III teams. Overall, 272 runners represented 39 complete teams in the varsity race, with similar numbers in the sub-varsity race.
Eight days after being tested by the huge, fast field at the New England championship, the Ephs took on a considerably more manageable field, featuring traditional rivals Amherst and Wesleyan, at home in the annual Little Three meet. Both meets provided some success for the Ephs as they continue to work toward the fast-approaching championship season.
The weather was perfect for racing at New Englands, sunny and clear but cool. The varsity squad was set to run first, and prepared to go out hard right from the starting gun. In such a large race, the start becomes crucial, because of the difficulty of working up through the huge field. All the Ephs were aware of the importance of getting a good start and establishing good position early in the race.
At the same time, it is easy to sprint out too hard and lose endurance for the later stages of the race. Tim Campbell ’01 and Wes Reutimann ’02 found the right balance, finishing first and second for Williams, respectively. Campbell ran an excellent time of 25:02 for the eight-kilometer race, and captured 25th place overall. Reutimann was 36th, turning in another strong time of 25:20. Dusty Lopez ’01 was third for Williams in 25:37 for 53rd place, with tri-captain Shad Miller ’00 close behind in 25:48, good for 68th place. Justin Wilson ’03 ran well in his first collegiate race at Franklin Park, taking 106th place in 26:10, despite taking a pounding early in the race from an irate competitor who resorted to the classless tactic of punching Wilson in the back of the head. Such physical racing is common at New Englands.
Wilson, a native of Weston, Mass., who had raced at Franklin Park numerous times in high school, was not willing to let the rough treatment spoil his homecoming. He literally took it in stride and came through admirably. Jay Slowik ’01 rounded out the Williams finishers, while Reed Harlow ’01, normally a high finisher for the Ephs, was unable to finish the race due to a chest cold.
The Ephs tallied 289 points to place eighth for the second straight year. Unfortunately, Division III rival Keene State took fourth place. This was the first meeting of the two teams, widely regarded to be the top two teams in Division III New England. The next time the Eph harriers will face Keene will be in three weeks at the Division III New England Championships, where Williams will put its seven-year string of team championships on the line again.
The Eph sub-varsity team proved that it didn’t need a rival to motivate it, as the class of ’03 led Williams’ best ever showing in the sub-varsity race. Neal Hannan ’03 ran 25:57 for sixth place, the highest Williams finish ever in the JV race. Karl Remsen ’03 ran 26:10 for tenth place, followed by Will Ronco ’01 in 17th place with 26:22. Tri-captain Teddy Wasserman ’00 ran 26:40, good for 24th place. Chris Garvin ’03 closed out the scoring for Williams with his 35th place finish in 26:50.
Despite the varsity’s loss to Keene, coach Pete Farwell emphasized the bright spots for the Ephs. “Tim Campbell ran an extraordinary race. Anything down in the 25-minute range is outstanding, and I think the rest of the guys will be down in that range by the end of the season. And the JV took second as a team, which is the best we’ve ever done in that race.”
In sharp contrast to the pressure of New Englands, the Ephs hosted the Little Three meet at Mt. Greylock High School eight days later. The weather was in sharp contrast to the week before as well. A week of cloudy, wet weather forced last-minute changes of the course to bypass the foot-deep mud that could be found in places.
In light of the conditions and the minimal threat posed by Amherst and Wesleyan, the Ephs elected to start fast but relaxed, and then surge for the third mile and power through the rest of the race. The tactics worked well, as Williams took over the race at midway through. A group of Ephs ran together, leading the last half of the race. With 100 meters to go, Miller, Campbell and Lopez were running shoulder to shoulder, looking to sweep the top three places, when a lone Amherst runner sprinted by the pack of three.
Campbell quickly extinguished the challenger’s hopes of pulling off an upset as he reeled the upstart in, taking first place in 26:35. Miller and Lopez finished together in 26:40 for third and fourth place, respectively. Six more Ephs would finish before the next Amherst runner. Wilson captured fifth in 26:45, followed one second later by Slowik. This closed out the Williams scoring, giving the Ephs a score of 19 to Amherst’s eventual 48 and Wesleyan’s 77. Remsen and Hannan rounded out the top seven.
Williams dominated the Little Three as never before, taking nine of the top ten places and 11 of the top 15. Coach Farwell was ready with some impressive statistics reflecting Williams’ success over the last three decades. “This year makes 28 out of the last 30 years that we have won the Little Three championship, and 12 consecutive wins. Even if the competition isn’t the best, there is always that traditional rivalry and it’s always good to win.” Until Campbell provided a little excitement by chasing down the top Amherst runner, the main element of suspense centered on whether or not Amherst or Wesleyan would attempt to kidnap Williams’ unofficial mascot, the famous Bear.
A sizable contingent of injured Ephs were assigned to bear-guarding duty and deterred any ill intent. According to Campbell, even his come-from-behind victory was never in doubt. “I had a lot left. There was no way I was going to let that guy (from Amherst) win on our home course.” With Little Three gone, the Ephs’ easy races are over for the year. Next week Williams competes in the NESCAC championship at Hamilton. Later, the Ephs will get another shot at Keene St. at the New England D-III championship.