Cross country dominated the McGill Open on Saturday in Montreal. The men took home first place in the field and the women took third.
The seventh-ranked men were easily able to conquer the unorthodox 6.6k course, which consisted of three laps of rolling hills on the side of Mont Royal. With the course’s sharp turns the runners needed to start quickly to avoid bottlenecking. As expected, teams jostled for position in the first mile. Ford Smith ’12 took the early lead, closely tailed by Scott Rodilitz ’13 and Jack Fitzhenry ’12. All three leading Ephs were members of the national-qualifying squad last year.
As the race spread out, Brandon Abasolo ’13 surged to the front. Matching his pace was the eventual winner of the race, Charles Philibert-Thiboutot of Laval Rouge. A chase group formed behind the two leaders, led by co-captain Anthony Raduazo ’12, rookie Colin Cotton ’15 and Fitzhenry.
Midway through the third lap, the chase pack caught Abasolo. Utilizing the downhill finish, the four Ephs sped after leader Philibert-Thiboutot, but came up short. Raduazo finished second with a time of 19:16, just eight seconds behind Philibert-Thiboutot. The co-captain was followed by Cotton and Fitzhenry, both of whom posted times of 19:18. The rest of the Williams top seven consisted of Abasolo, who placed 6th overall at 19:22; Rodilitz, who placed 8th at 19:36; Smith, who placed 12th at 19:45; and Daniel Siegel ’15, who placed 13th at 19:46.
The Ephs controlled the leader board with five runners in the top 10. They tallied 21 points, outperforming Laval Rouge and Western Ontario, who earned scores of 54 and 84, respectively. Williams’ tally was good enough to outscore the rest of the field combined.
While the team was excited to post great times, they have bigger goals for the season. With the top seven returning from last year’s runner-up finish at the regional meet and 19th-place performance at Div. III NCAAs, the captains acknowledge that there are high expectations for the team.
“Tight packs are the key to a successful race,” co-captain Mark Springel ’12 said. “And Williams is so tight right now.”
The fourth-ranked women also dominated their 4k race. Rookies Alison Smith ’15 and Anna Spiers ’15 led the team to a third-place finish with times of 14:56 and 14:57, respectively, allowing them to finish up in sixth and seventh place. “It is very fun for Alison and Anna to be able to step up and get a top 10 result in their first race,” Head Coach Pete Farwell said.
Smith and Spiers were closely followed by Leslie Blackshear ’14 in 12th place with a time of 15:08. Brianne Mirecki ’14 and Amelia Ortiz ’15 followed suit with times of 15:22 for 16th and 15:23 for 17th, respectively. Eirann Cohen ’15 in 21st place (15:35) and co-captain Natalie Davis ’12 in 22nd place (15:36) rounded out the women’s top seven to contribute to the team’s 55 points. This total was good for third, as Western Ontario took first with 48 points and McGill took second with 40 points.
“I am really pleased with how well we executed our race plan, getting out quickly and running in fast packs,” Farwell said. “I was actually surprised that we dominated the field so completely.”
The team will host their home race, the Purple Valley Invitational, this Saturday. Both the men’s and the women’s race will begin at 11:30 a.m.