On Saturday, men’s and women’s cross country hosted the annual Purple Valley Classic at Mount Greylock Regional High School, bringing strong racers from all three collegiate divisions. Since new travel rules meant that the non-varsity teams traveled to Middlebury last weekend, Purple Valley was the first race of the season for the Williams varsity teams, and both the men and women opened impressively with second place finishes in fields of 12 teams.
Conditions for the races were almost ideal and lead to fast early season times. The men’s varsity 8k race was won by Div. II UMass Lowell with a score of 38 while Williams took second place with 53 points and NYU finished third with a score of 75. On the women’s side, Johns Hopkins won the varsity 6k race with 29 points, 26 points ahead of second place Williams and 40 points ahead of Middlebury in third.
The first race was the sub-varsity coed 5k that the men won with a nearly perfect score of 19. Leading the way for the Ephs was individual winner Brandon Abasolo ’13 in a time of 16:17, while fellow first-year Wade Davis ’13 followed closely to take home second place overall. Geoff Rodriguez ’11, Andrew Gaidus ’11 and Jeff Stenzel ’10 all turned in impressive performances to round out the scoring for the Ephs. The women fared almost as well as the men by finishing in second, only five points behind champions UMass Lowell. Standout performers for the Ephs were Olga Kondratjeva ’10, who won the race by 10 seconds, Nora Mitchell ’10, Megan Holmes ’11, Emily McTague ’12 and Maya Harakawa ’12.
The men’s varsity 8k race was the first opportunity for the Ephs to test themselves in a competitive race situation this season, and the team’s fourth place national ranking is surely no fluke. Leading the way for Williams was the duo of Edgar Kosgey ’10 â€“ last year’s 10th place national finisher â€“ and J. Koima ’12, who enters the season dramatically improved after the summer. Kosgey and Koima were the top two collegiate finishers with times of 25:50 and 25:52 respectively, times second only to Assistant Coach and newfound alum Macklin Chaffee ’09. Williams’ other scorers were Anthony Raduazo ’12, Jeff Perlis ’10 â€“ last year’s 26th place national finisher â€“ and co-captain Corey Watts ’10, who finished in 11th, 14th and 25th respectively. An impressive total of 11 Ephs finished the hilly five mile course in less than 28 minutes.
“Purple Valley was a really exciting meet for the team since it was the first time our full squad got to face off against some great Div. III teams as well as some Div. I and Div. II competition,” co-captain Conor Kamm ’10 said. “The team is looking really good this year, and I think that Purple Valley was just one of many great races to come.”
The women’s varsity 6k race was also the first chance for the women to test their legs against fierce national competition. Traveling from Baltimore, the nationally fourth-ranked Johns Hopkins team won the race while the Williams women packed up well towards the front of the field. Williams used a combination of pack running and intelligent pacing to beat out nationally top-ranked Middlebury by 14 points. Co-captain Bret Scofield ’10 led the way for the Ephs, finishing sixth overall, only two seconds ahead of seventh and eighth place finishers Jennifer Gossels ’13 and Meghan Shea ’11. Scofield, Gossels, Shea and Lauren Goldstein-Kral ’12 formed a solid pack for the majority of the race before separating slightly in the last quarter mile. Elly Teitsworth ’10 was Williams’ fifth and final scorer.
“It was great to see the team in a good, competitive race with nationally-ranked teams, but this is just the start of the season,” said co-captain Jane Manfred ’10. “Both the 5k and 6k demonstrate the impressive depth we have this year. It was a great starting point for the team. We definitely will be looking to improve from here and build on the great start.”
“There was great team racing … for both the men and women,” Assistant Coach Kathleen Newton said. “The team has really put together great summer training, and it’s already showing in their performances.”
The men and women begin a two-week period of heavy training before they race again on Oct. 10 at the Div. I Open New England Championships at Franklin Park in Boston.