On Saturday, men’s cross country headed to Cumberland, Maine to defend its 2008 Regional title. Racing in intermittent rain, the Ephs ran a strong team race to win convincingly with a score of only 53 points. Amherst was a distant second with 104 points while Keene State, Brandeis and Bowdoin rounded out the top five teams. By winning Regionals, Williams earns an automatic bid to the National Championship this Saturday at Baldwin-Wallace College in Cleveland, Ohio.
Amherst’s second place finish also guaranteed those runners spots at Nationals while Keene State and Brandeis were awarded at-large bids by the NCAA selection committee. Williams has now qualified for Nationals each of the last four years, only failing to qualify in 2005 out of the 17 years that the NESCAC has allowed teams to compete at Nationals.
Coming off a second place individual finish at NESCACs, Edgar Kosgey ’10 continued his dominant season by winning the individual Regional title for the third consecutive year. Kosgey ran from the front for the duration of the race, holding off a late charge by Amherst’s Daniel Murner to win in a time of 25:16.
“We count on Edgar to be our man up front in every race, and he has always delivered,” said co-captain Corey Watts ’10. “With three straight regional titles despite many injuries and difficult conditions, he has proven himself to be one of the smartest and toughest racers in New England.”
Following closely on Kosgey’s heels was co-captain Connor Kamm ’10 who finished 11th overall in a personal-best time of 25:42. The strong finish showed Kamm’s consistent improvement over the season after being sidelined due to injury for large portions of the last two years. Still, Kamm’s performance at Regionals was a major breakthrough as he had finished no better than sixth on the team prior to this week.
Less than a half-second behind Kamm, All-American Jeff Perlis ’10 ran to his second straight All-Region team by finishing in 12th place overall, followed five seconds later by both Watts and J. Koima ’12, who crossed the line in 14th and 15th respectively. In spite of the slow racing conditions on Saturday, all of Williams’ top five finishers ran well under the 26-minute mark, a fact that bodes well for the team’s chances at this week’s National Championships.
“Our teams have truly perfected race tactics and displayed their prowess and peak form in this regional competition,” Head Coach Pete Farwell said.
Assistant Head Coach Patrick Wakes-Dinan commented also on the team’s strengths. “The men showed their incredible depth again dominating up front,” Wakes-Dinan said. “What is equally impressive is that they have had a different runner finish as their No. 2 man for three consecutive races, which is a testament to their strong pack and continued improvement.”
Highlighting Williams’ dominant performance, only Amherst and Bowdoin managed to have their second runners finish before Williams’ fifth runner, and no team’s third runner finished ahead of Williams’ fifth. In addition, the top six Williams runners were named to the All-Region team, with Anthony Raduazo ’12 â€“ Williams’ sixth finisher â€“ taking 34th place overall.
After hoping all season for a chance to run against the best competition in the country, the Ephs now have one week left to prepare for the national race.
“This team has set very high goals from the beginning,” Watts said in anticipation of nationals. “We have a strong, healthy, and motivated group, and we believe that we can beat any team in the nation. We will also race knowing that we will have the best fan support in the country from dozens of teammates who are driving eight hours to see the race.”
“We are healthy and ready to put together one more great race, our best of the season, at NCAAs,” Farwell said. After a third place finish at last year’s National Championships, the team hopes for another podium finish on Saturday.