Men’s cross country races to 2nd at Midd.

Men’s cross country continued to produce positive results this weekend at the Panther Invitational in Middlebury, Vt. Hosted annually by NESCAC rival Middlebury, the meet is run on a hilly 8k course which features varied terrain and is typically considered a challenging run.

Despite reserving an all-out effort for meets later in the season, the Ephs cruised to a second place finish out of eight competitors. Host Middlebury took first place.

Mark Springel ’12 led the men to their second place result on Saturday. Springel clocked in at 27:57.3, finishing eighth overall. Close behind him were co-captain Jason Rapaport ’11 and Daudi Ng’Eno ’13 with 10th and 11th place finishes, respectively. Rapaport completed the course in 28:04.4, while Ng’Eno finished just seconds behind with a time of 28:12.7. The two remaining scoring positions on the team were filled by two of the team’s rookies, Max Heninger ’14 and Nate Sutton ’14. Heninger placed 15th overall with a time of 28:52.3, while Sutton raced to 20th in 29:17.8. Pete Watson ’13 and Fenn Hoffman ’13 ran to sixth and seventh for the Ephs, respectively, and finished in 23rd and 26th place overall.

The men tallied 64 points on the day, outpaced only by the Panthers, who posted an impressive score of 18 points. Middlebury’s runners dominated the competition; their top seven runners all placed in the top nine overall spots. This result must be interpreted carefully, however, as Middlebury ran all of its best runners in the race while many of the top Williams runners were not present, having already competed the week before at the Dartmouth Invitational.

“We had a relatively small squad who raced at Midldebury, with a mix of freshmen running their first 8k and upperclassmen who were looking for a low-key season opener,” Springel said. “Jason Rapaport had a great race, Daudi had a standout performance, and Max Heninger also came in strong.”

Besides Middlebury, no other NESCAC teams participated in the meet. Williams bested Clarkson, St. Michael’s, Paul Smith’s, Norwich, Potsdam State, Johnson State and Vermont Technical College en route to its second place finish.

“Everyone is looking forward to Purple Valley next week and Div. I’s at Franklin Park, where we’ll have some strong competition,” Rapaport said. “We have a lot of guys returning healthy and fit from the summer, and we’re excited to see how we fare at some of these larger meets.”

Springel echoed Rapaport’s sentiments, saying that the men are “in a good spot coming into the season. We’re dealing with some nagging injuries that have sidelined a few of our top runners, but we also have a very strong group of underclassmen who will be ready to pick up the slack if injuries become more widespread.”

Head Coach Pete Farley praised the team’s performance this weekend but is primarily focused on Saturday’s home meet. “There are 22 teams, including two Div. I teams and two Div. II teams [and] five NESCAC squads [competing], so competition will be extremely strong,” he said. “We’ll have most of our top guys in lineup and give a good effort, but placing in the top five teams will be a challenge.”

At this point, Springel is taking a more long-term view of the season. “We have another 61 days until Nationals on Nov. 20,” he said. “Anything can happen over the next two months, but I have no doubt we’ll be toeing the line once again come November.”

The men will be looking to continue their streak of positive early-season performances Saturday at the Purple Valley Invitational. Williams will host Saturday’s race at Mt. Greylock High School. The men will be looking to see how their regular lineup fairs against NESCAC competition, as the team hasn’t run all of its top runners in one meet yet this season. The meet is the men’s only regular season competition at home, though Williams will also host the NCAA Qualifier on Nov. 13.