Men’s cross country keeps Dartmouth Invite in perspective

Members of the men’s cross country team traveled to the 2002 Dartmouth Invitational on Saturday held on the grounds of the Hanover Country Club in Hanover, N.H.

Head Coach Peter Farwell reminded his harriers to stay relaxed and cruise for the first three miles of the eight-kilometer (five-mile) race, treating the day more as a workout than a competitive debut.

Though all were in uniform, most of the Williams men wore trainers rather than racing shoes as a way to keep their adrenaline in check.

“It’s a training day,” Farwell said beforehand. “But the guys’ll get out there and their competitive fires will wake up a little bit. They’ll remember that they’re in a racing season again, and by next week they’ll be more ready to go.”

The mood on the starting line was nervous but light, brightened by the fall’s first “bear toss,” a Williams men’s cross country pre-race ritual in which the team huddles around its mascot, a giant teddy bear who joined the team in 1978, and sends him into the air with a collective heave.

“Not bad for the first toss of the season,” captain Chris Garvin ’03 said. “We didn’t get a lot of height, but he went straight up and came straight down. Sometimes he’s just flopped out of the circle, and that’s always disappointing.”

Within the first quarter-mile of the race the Williams men found themselves at the rear of the stampede, a galloping sea of Dartmouth, Providence, Keene State, Tufts and UMass-Lowell singles ahead of them. However, with late-morning temperatures already in the 80s and long stretches of the course exposed to direct sunlight, Williams’s front pack kicked past those who soon fell off the leader’s pace.

While the first mile-and-a-half wrapped around a string of fairways and greens, however, the second and third miles of the course narrowed into a curving woods trail that made progress up the ranks more difficult.

The route opened onto a fairway again for a stretch before the fourth mile and quickly dove back into the woods, turning up a steep, deceptively long hill that emptied onto a reprise of the first half-mile of the course.

Garvin and Assistant Coach Tim Campbell ’01, an All-American in cross-country and track while a student at Williams who now runs unattached, moved together and stayed patient until Shamus Brady ’04 and Matt Winkler ’04 joined them near the fourth mile.

“Not as many people fell off the front as we thought might come back to us. We made up some ground, but a lot of the race got away in the first couple miles,” Campbell said. Campbell ended the race in 48th place at 27:33, one second and one place ahead of Garvin. Brady finished 54th in 27:40, and Winkler 58th in 27:52.

Brendan Dougherty ’06, Colin Bruzewicz ’05, Eric Daub ’04 and Eli Lazarus ’04 joined up early to form Williams’s second pack.

Dougherty and Bruzewicz pulled away and stayed paired until the last half-mile, when Dougherty left Bruzewicz at the top of the final hill and powered in to score as Williams’s fourth man, at 76th in 28:51. Bruzewicz held on to round out the Ephs’ top five at 80th in 29:05.

“You top that last hill and run right by the finish tape – a not-so-subtle reminder that you still have a half-mile to go,” Bruzewicz said. “That last section will eat you up if you haven’t saved anything for it.”

Daub tried to lead Lazarus, but Lazarus began falling back even before the two-mile mark. Daub, still fatigued from a cold earlier in the week, rolled to 85th in 29:50. Lazarus, saddled with a cold of his own, dropped to 96th (31:53).

Ross Smith ’05, however, ran a strong second half after a conservative start and overtook Lazarus in the final mile, wrapping up Williams’s front seven at 92nd, crossing the line in 31:14. Sean O’Brien ’05 completed the Eph runners at 98th in 32:02.

After a picnic near the country-club links, Williams’s men’s and women’s teams re-boarded their bus and made a brief eastward excursion to Mt. Cardigan State Park in Canaan, NH.

Tired legs and all, the teams hiked a mile and a half to the top of Mt. Cardigan, a 3000-foot bald peak that looks west to the Green and east to the White Mountain ranges.

“We certainly got a beautiful afternoon for it,” captain Karl Remsen ’03, who took the weekend off from racing but rode with the team as a spectator, said. “It was a good way to close the day, add something a little different to the usual away-meet schedule.”

Next week the Williams harriers will host their annual Purple Valley Classic on their home course at Mount Greylock High School. Racing is scheduled to begin at 12:00 p.m.

Last year the Ephs had to settle for the silver medal at their home invitational, while Dartmouth took home the gold.

The course had been redesigned shortly before last year’s meet, however, and it is possible that with the greater familiarity the harriers will have with the course this go ’round that they could be in position to improve their fortunes at the meet in 2002. Garvin was the top finisher for the Ephs at the Classic last year, and was their only runner to place in the top ten.