Cross country hosts Plansky Invitational

This Saturday, Williams hosted the annual Plansky Invitational at Mount Greylock Regional High School. Plansky is a chance for most of the team to rest in preparation for Little Threes and other upcoming championship meets, meaning less than half of the team raced. The Plansky Invitational also serves as the alumni race, so many graduates were back in Williamstown racing on the trails again and enjoying the surprisingly beautiful weather.

The first race of the day was the women’s 6k, won by last year’s captain and All-American Lauren Philbrook ’09. Jessica Ray ’10 ran well to finish first among current Williams runners in 16th place and was followed closely by Tina Meade ’11 and Megan Holmes ’11. RPI was the team champion with a score of 26 points.
Next up was the men’s 8k, which showcased the impressive talent of the alumni and the few current Ephs entered in the race. From the gun, the trio of Assistant Coach Macklin Chaffee ’09, 2005 national champion Neal Holtschulte ’06 and Chris Ellis-Ferrara ’07 used a fast pace to separate themselves from the rest of the field. By two miles Chaffee had strung out the group and he would go on to win in a time of 25:43, 19 seconds ahead of second-place Holtschulte. Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day, however, was that of Sam Jackson ’10, who finished eighth overall in a time of 26:56 after running much of the race at the front of the chase pack with national-caliber runners. “Sam made the breakthrough we all knew he was capable of,” said co-captain Corey Watts ’10 of Jackson’s performance. The Tufts men were the team champions with a score of 26 points.

The final race of the day was the coed 5k. In a dominant showing on the men’s side, Williams swept the top 10 spots to win the team title with a perfect score of 15 points. Jeff Stenzel ’10 was the overall winner in an impressive time of 16:43, while Dan Franck ’11 finished second only eight seconds back in 16:51. Brian Cole ’11 made his season debut after fighting through injury problems to finish an impressive third, while Sam Blackshear ’10 continued his streak of solid races with a fourth place finish.

The women’s side proved to be a more competitive affair as Williams and Tufts battled for the team title. Tufts were the eventual champions with 23 points to Williams’ 37 points. The first Eph finisher was Annie Dear ’13, who made her Williams debut in a time of 19:16. Also running well were co-captain Jess Clarke ’10 and KK Durante ’11. “It was exciting to see some new faces debut and veterans return to the trails with great performances,” said co-captain Jane Manfred ’10. “We look forward to building from here with a full squad next weekend at the Little Three meet.”

Overall, the Plansky Invitational went off without a hitch and was a perfect stepping stone for the Ephs as they make their push towards championship season. Head Coach Peter Farwell was pleased with the race. “We really enjoy racing at home, especially when all of the alumni are back,” he said. “There was a great atmosphere all day and team traditions were at their best.”

Two weekends ago, the team headed to Franklin Park in Boston to compete in the Open New England Championships. Racing against the best competition in New England across all divisions, Open New Englands is a chance to prepare for the large and competitive championship races at the end of the season and is usually a good gauge of a team’s progress.

Both the men’s and women’s teams lost to only one Div. III school with the men finishing eighth and the women seventh in fields of 47 and 49 teams respectively. Individually, Edgar Kosgey ’10 was Williams’ standout performer, matching the highest ever finish for an Eph at Open New England’s by finishing third overall. On the women’s side, Jenn Gossels ’13 was Williams’ top finisher in 26th place.
The Ephs will head to Amherst next week for Little Threes before the team hosts the Doc Seely Invitational on Oct. 30.