Men’s X-Country hosts ECAC tourney

The men’s cross-country team finished fifth out of 28 teams at the 2001 ECAC Championship, held Saturday at Williams’ home course at Mt. Greylock High School. While 41 teams were represented at the meet, only 28 fielded squads of at least five scoring members. Teams with fewer than five runners received no score.

Keene State reclaimed the team title, which they last held in 1998, with a score of 72 points. Keene State’s Matt St. Germaine covered the 8K (five mile) course in 25:50, gapping Colby’s Nat Brown (second, 26:41) by a 51-second margin and shattering the previous course record by 52 seconds.

Amherst College took second with 81 points, and Colby third with 95. Williams (127) fell just one point short of fourth-place Tufts (126).

With Williams’ top seven enjoying a week off from racing in preparation for the New England Division III Regional Championship on November 10, the Ephs’ second seven — co-captain Ben Chaffee ‘02, Fred Hines ‘02, Zach Blume ‘02, Tim Austin ‘03, Eli Lazarus ‘04, Colin Bruzewicz ‘05, and Teddy McGehee ’05 – stepped to the line for the last race of their respective seasons.

Chaffee led Williams’ charge from the gun, working his way through the upper ranks of the race to 14th place with a time of 27:22, earning all-ECAC honors.

After a conservative start, Hines advanced nearly thirty places through the fourth and fifth miles to finish 20th in 27:35. Blume was 24th overall, third for Williams, in 27:44.

Fourth-man Austin pulled away from Lazarus at the start of the fifth mile, leap-frogging more than fourteen spots to cross the line 29th in 27:57. Lazarus arrived 16 seconds later in 28:13, placing 45th. Fifty-one seconds separated Williams’ first and fifth men. Bruzewicz (71st, 28:54) and McGehee (81st, 29:08) rounded out Williams’ contingent.

“I’m proud of these boys and I’m proud of this season,” said Chaffee after the meet. “I wish the team scores had sorted out differently, but our guys ran well and this is always a crowded race.”

There was some concern in the weeks leading up to the championship that the Mt. Greylock course would not be able to accommodate men’s and women’s flights of nearly 300 racers. Head coach Peter Farwell and his assistants spent the summer and much of this fall tailoring the route to literally smooth out its wrinkles.

Farwell and his work crews yanked stumps, roots, and rocks from several stretches of trail; raised bridges of packed gravel in lowland areas, covering the bridges in a fine layer of mulch and seeding them with grass; reinforced retaining structures around existing raised-gravel bridges; and filled puddles and mud pockets with wood chips.

Furthermore, Farwell redesigned the start and finish to avoid pileups: both the start and finish are significantly longer than in any previous year, and the first turn of the race, rather than jerking runners around a sudden left-hand right angle, now sweeps them around the front field loop in a slow curve.

By the time the first teams arrived on Friday afternoon to survey the course, Farwell’s workers had painted directional arrows, highlighted roots in visible flourescents, strung flags, staked turn markers, and raked the route completely clear of leaves its entire length.

Next week, the Ephs’ top seven will have to contend with Bowdoin, Tufts, Trinity, Keene State, and MIT in order to secure a berth at the NCAA Division III Championship at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. The New England region, based on its collective success at last year’s national championship in Spokane, Washington, will send five teams to Augustana. Williams lost to Bowdoin, Tufts, and Trinity at the NESCAC Championship on Oct. 27, and has not yet raced full squads from either Keene State or MIT.

“It’ll be close, for sure,” said co-captain Wes Reutimann ‘02, “but it’s always close. We’ve been in this situation before. A bid to nationals, no matter how many times you’ve been there, is never a sure thing until the race at New Englands is over. You can lose to other teams all season — as long as you beat them at Regionals. That’s the race that counts.”