Men’s harriers give it their all, settle for third at 2002 Purple Valley Classic

St. Lawrence University took home top team honors from the 2002 Purple Valley Classic, held on the Ephs’s home course at Mt. Greylock High School on Saturday. Trailing St. Lawrence’s score of 38, SUNY Geneseo rallied to second place with 52 points while Williams had to settle for third in the standings with 87.

Captain Karl Remsen ’03 was first across the line, covering the 8K (five mile) route in 26:17 – an average of 5:15 per mile. Remsen caught the race’s early leaders in the fifth mile and cruised away with the win.

Andy Golden ’03, captain Chris Garvin ’03 and Shamus Brady ’04 moved through the first three-fifths of the race together, rolling roughly 30 seconds behind Remsen and working steadily through the field until there was almost no one left to pass. Golden arrived fourth overall in 26:57, leading in Garvin and Brady, who took sixth and seventh in 27:06 and 27:11, respectively.

“The race felt pretty good,” Garvin said as he unlaced his flats. “The field strung out pretty fast, partly because of the heat and humidity, I think, and because a lot of guys take the first mile, mile-and-a-half too hard.

“If you’re a little dehydrated and you misjudge that first part, it all catches up to you by the time you come out of the woods and have to loop around the outer fields. That whole middle mile is in the sun.”

With Brady in the chute, both Williams and St. Lawrence had four runners in the top 10 – Williams claiming first, fourth, sixth and seventh; St. Lawrence second, fifth, ninth and 10th.

The deciding factor came at each squad’s fifth man – St. Lawrence’s final scorer was 12th, well ahead of Aaron Magid ’04, who pulled in at 69th in 30:49. Geneseo, on the heels of Williams’s front four, tied in their own fifth man at 16th, tightly knit enough to secure the second-place trophy by a 35-point margin.

“We had a tough week of training,” Head Coach Peter Farwell said, “which is good, because it kept our guys from going out too fast in the first mile.

“Sort of like last week, we wanted to feel comfortable through the first couple miles, racing a little behind the leaders, nice and relaxed, and then really try to switch gears and work the third and fourth miles – and the fifth mile is always whatever you have left.”

The most exciting aspect of this year’s Purple Valley Classic was the variety of teams on the starting line. In 2001, a major invitational at Van Cortland Park in New York drew most squads south for the weekend.

On Saturday, however, 10 men’s teams took to the Mt. Greylock High School hills. In addition to St. Lawrence and Geneseo, Southern Connecticut College, RIT, Dickinson, RPI, Middlebury, Union and Castleton were in attendance.

“We’re so glad to see so many different teams here this year,” Farwell said at the brief post-race awards gathering. “Some of you had to make quite a trip just to get here –Dickinson all the way from Pennsylvania, Southern Connecticut drove up – and we’d like to thank you for coming. We hope to see you all again next year.”

In the men’s 5-k (3.1 mile) race, Williams landed three of the top 10 places. Neal Holtshulte ’06 blasted through the closing mile of the course with a punishing kick to take second in 16:49 behind Middlebury’s Garrot Kuzzy (16:36).

Bryan Dragon ’06 followed in fifth at 16:57 while Brendan Dougherty ’06 locked up ninth in 17:17.

Dragon, who grew up in nearby Cheshire, Mass., and graduated from Hoosic Valley High School in Adams, noted some unexpected changes to the course that he used to compete on.

“We ran here a lot in high school and it was actually one of the flatter courses in Berkshire County,” Dragon said. “But we used to go back up the same hill that you come down in the first mile, so the new cut through the woods was pretty different and the finish is much longer now.

“Before, you would go down the hill by the apple tree and around the loop by the road, like we still do, but then you’d come back through the stakes and the finish was right there – another 200 meters and that was it.”

Farwell amended the course in the summer of 2001 to accommodate the 2001 ECAC Championships, one of the biggest venues of the cross country championship season. Williams will host ECACs again this November.

Next week, however, the team heads to the Tufts Invitational at the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton, Mass., where Tufts will also host the 2002 NESCAC Championships on Nov. 2.