Men’s XC bests Midd. at Dartmouth Invite

On Saturday, men’s cross country competed in the team’s first meet of the 2010 season at the Dartmouth Invitational. The men came in third overall with 95 points, behind Dartmouth with 25 points and Yale with 30 points, while edging past Middlebury by three points.

As per the advice of Head Coach Pete Farwell, the Ephs approached this early event as a chance to tune up before more important races in October and November. With the team just coming off summer training, the race in Hanover, N.H. was a good opportunity to test fitness, get used to racing a hard course and present a number of runners that do not compete regularly with an opportunity to race against good competition.

Following Farwell’s philosophy of treating early races like a training run, the men ran in small packs during the course of the race. The team ran the 8k course as if it were a hard tempo workout and not an all-out effort. “We wanted to get some groups running at a fast tempo, and then see who had something left to move up over the final two miles,” Farwell said by way of explaining the team’s strategy.

“As a team, we were less concerned with how we matched up against the competition and more focused on feeling strong, smooth and comfortable in the first race of the season,” said co-captain Andrew Gaidus ’11. Gaidus led the team on Saturday, finishing 25th overall with a time of 26:47, beating his personal best in the 8k by 32 seconds.

Peter Drews ’14 finished second among the Williams runners and 29th overall, with Wade Davis ’13 a close four seconds and four places behind. Max LaBerge ’14 and Brian Cole ’11 were the fourth and fifth runners, respectively, and rounded out the scoring members of the team in 35th and 37th place.

“We had a great first race and competed well despite having several notable runners not race this weekend,” Gaidus said. A number of seasoned runners sat out in order to give newcomers a chance to get racing experience.

Farwell expressed satisfaction with the team’s results on Saturday and particularly with Gaidus’ strong finish. “I was very pleased with Andrew Gaidus, who is having a huge breakthrough in training and racing,” Farwell said of the senior co-captain.

Aside from competition results, Farwell is also looking for more of his athletes to step up and lead the relatively young team throughout the season. “Our captains [Gaidus, Dan Franck ’11 and Jason Rapaport ’11] will do a great job leading, but we also expect many from our team to display leadership qualities for the first time,” he said.

Though the team graduated 14 seniors in May, it welcomed 14 first-year runners this fall. Of the top 10 Williams runners who raced at Dartmouth this weekend, four are first-years and three are sophomores. Chris Cogswell ’14 and Henry Koster ’14 debuted along with scoring runners Drews and LaBerge. “It was great to see four first-years do so well in their first ever college race and over the longer 8k distance, which is quite an adjustment,” Farwell said.

“Despite graduating four of last year’s top seven runners, I think we’re going to have a really successful season,” Gaidus said. “We have a lot of guys who are training very well and will step up to fill their places.” This optimistic outlook is shared by both the coaching staff and the runners.

Commenting on the team’s goals for the season, Farwell emphasized a focus on smart peaking in preparation for NESCAC and regional championship races, where he hopes the team will perform well. He mentioned that the men are prioritizing beating longtime rival Amherst as well.

The Ephs will next race at the Middlebury Invitational on Saturday and will continue to gear up for the more important New England Div. I Championships, which will take place at Franklin Park in Boston on Oct. 9.