Men’s cross country competed in the NESCAC Championship on Saturday at Hamilton. As four-time defending champions, the Ephs were looking to ride the momentum gained from last week’s win at the Little Three Championship in order to extend their winning streak. Middlebury, however, derailed this plan, outscoring the men by 16 points and forcing Williams into second place.
The Hamilton 8k cross country course is set on a relatively flat golf course, but recent rains turned it into a muddy mess. “The muddy conditions called for some adjustments in stride and energy distribution,” Head Coach Pete Farwell said. “We got out well, perhaps a bit too aggressively, and competed hard throughout [the race] against some of the best competition in the past five years.”
Farwell specifically praised the performance of Josephat Koima ’12. Despite the conditions, Koima raced his way to an impressive third place finish. In a dramatic last few seconds, Koima barely outkicked rival Will Yokum of Amherst, clocking in at 26:22.8 over Yokum’s 26:23.0 result.
Wade Davis ’13 continued his recent streak of consistent performances, finishing 16th overall in 26:48.8 as the second Eph to cross the finish line. Davis was only a second away from earning All-NESCAC honors, which are awarded to the first fifteen finishers. Koima claimed All-NESCAC status with his finish.
In another terrific performance, Ford Smith ’12 navigated the muddy course in 26:53.2 to take 18th overall. Smith’s result on Saturday followed an impressive seventh-place finish at Little Threes, securing his place on the varsity squad for the remaining half of the month of November, which marks this year’s championship season.
Anthony Raduazo ’12 finished fourth for the Ephs, clocking in at 26:55.8 in 23rd. Behind Raduazo, a pack of three Williams runners finished within one and a half seconds of each other. Mark Springel ’12 led the group, taking 34th place overall with a 27:12.2 performance. Behind him, filling the 35th and 36th spots, were Henry Koster ’14 and Scott Rodilitz ’13, who completed the course in 27:12.4 and 27:13.7, respectively.
Together, the top five Ephs scored 94 points and completed the course in an impressive average time of 26:50.6. Despite the disappointment of finishing in second place, the men completed a successful race, edging out Tufts, which finished with 103 points; Wesleyan, with 113; and Bates with 114 points in a competitive field with a narrow score spread.
Hamilton’s Peter Kosgei was the day’s top finisher. Kosgei won the race by a decisive 16 seconds in a time of 26.06.8, becoming the first four-time NESCAC champion in the conference’s history. Middlebury’s Michael Schmidt took second; the Panthers placed four runners in the top fifteen.
The Ephs will race once more – in the ECAC Championship on Saturday – before going into NCAA qualifiers and hopefully onto the NCAA Championship race, which will be held at Wartburg in Waverly, Ohio, on Nov. 20. ECACs this weekend will be held at Colt State Park in Bristol, R.I., starting at 11 a.m. The Ephs will race their second seven, including co-captains Dan Franck ’11, Andrew Gaidus ’11 and Jason Rapaport ’11, along with Chris Cogswell ’14, Max LaBerge ’14, Peter Drews ’14 and Jack Fitzhenry ’12, on Saturday. The top seven will be resting up for the NCAA Qualifier. which will be held at Williams’ home course at Mount Greylock High School.
Farwell is optimistic about the rest of the season following this week’s showing. “We’re in the mix of best teams even when we’re not quite at our best, and with a strong peak we will be ready to fly,” he said, clearly proud of his team. “[The outlook for championship season] is good. Most of the work is behind us … and now we will fine tune and rest up for top performances.”
The men will need to remain healthy and on top of their game for the next few weeks as championship season hits its peak.