XC tunes up at Plansky Invitational

Staying close to home last weekend, men and women’s cross country ran at Mt. Greylock High School in the Plansky Invitational. The meet was named after former and esteemed Williams cross country coach, Tony Plansky. The Invitational featured a women’s 6k race, a men’s 8k race and a coed 5k race, which included over a dozen alumni. Among others MIT, Tufts, the College of New Jersey and Umass Dartmouth competed.

As planned, the meet was treated by many as a tune-up for next weekend’s Little Three championships, which will be hosted by Williams. Accordingly, many of the team’s varsity runners did not compete, but instead worked out at the high school while cheering on their teammates.

Although a large proportion of the team trained through the Plansky Invite, there were still several impressive performances. In the women’s 6k Mary Brunelli ’12 took third place with a time of 22:52 and Mary Feeley ’09 finished just a minute after. In the men’s 8k alum Neal Holtschulte narrowly missed taking first place, and Jeff Stenzel ’10 took 10th with a time of 26:56. In the 5k race Matt Deady ’10 finished first in 16:59 and Aaron Schwartz ’09 took seventh with a time of 17:14. Leah Katzelnick ’10 led the women’s 5k in a time of 20:33 and took first place overall. Elleree Erdos ’12 took third overall in 20:51, and Heather Bemis ’09 came in two seconds later.

While last weekend’s race helped prepare the team for Little Threes, it could not match the competition and intensity that Williams saw at the Div. I New England championships two weeks ago. Not only did Williams face its best competition from Div. III, including Keene State and Amherst, but the Ephs also went up against Div. I powerhouses New Hampshire, Dartmouth and Brown.

Both the men and women’s teams rose to the challenge and turned in great races. The weather was perfect, the course was fast and by the end of the day, dozens of Ephs had set personal bests. The team results were also encouraging; the women’s varsity took third place, and the men’s varsity finished in eighth, despite not having its top runner, Edgar Kosgey ’10.

Captain Brendan Christian ’09 and Jeff Perlis ’10 were the first two finishers for the men, running personal best times of 25:20 and 25:25, respectively. Lauren Philbrook ’09, for the third consecutive race, was the top Williams finisher for the women. She finished in 17th place with a time of 18:23.

With its confidence raised at New Englands two weeks ago and its training bolstered by the Plansky Invite this week, the team has high hopes for this upcoming weekend’s Little Three championship.