Men’s XC races to 24th consecutive Little 3 crown

Last Saturday, men’s cross country hosted the Little Three Championship race at Mount Greylock Regional High School. The team came in first place for the 24th consecutive year, dusting rivals Wesleyan and Amherst to claim the Little Three title. Over reading period on Oct. 8, the men finished ninth of 43 teams in the Div. I New England Championships.

After the gun went off on Saturday, Amherst’s Andrew Erskine rushed into the lead. Behind him, the Ephs established several dense packs, working together in the early part of the course and refusing to separate to chase the leader.

“We often advise the guys to pack up, but it is hard to pull off in the actual race,” Head Coach Pete Farwell said. “This time they accomplished it perfectly, with about a dozen men in our lead pack.”

Erskine held a sizable advantage as late as the three-mile mark, but was slowly reeled in by a group paced by Josephat Koima ’12 and co-captain Anthony Raduazo ’12. As the field battled up the final climbs, Koima broke away from the men’s pack, with Wesleyan’s Skyler Cummins trailing close behind.

Koima flew down the homestretch to capture the individual title in 26:20. A flurry of Ephs finished just behind him: Raduazo finished in third in 26:36, Wade Davis ’13 entered the chute in fourth in 26:38, Brandon Abasolo ’13 snared fifth in 26:44, Jack Fitzhenry ’12 claimed sixth in 26:46 and Scott Rodilitz ’13 placed seventh in 26:47. Colin Cotton ’15 completed the men’s top seven, finishing in ninth with a time of 26:50.

The Ephs scored 19 points, ahead of the Cardinals (57) and the Jeffs (62).

Saturday was the last time many of the seniors would race in their Williams singlets on their home course. In addition to smart races from Koima, Raduazo and Fitzhenry, co-captain Mark Springel ’12 and Ford Smith ’12 locked up spots in the NESCAC Championship, finishing 10th and 18th in 26:55 and 27:13, respectively. Other contributing seniors included Matt Wyatt ’12 in 27th (27:47), Davis Filippell ’12 in 42nd (28:34), Andrew Morgosh ’12 in 47th (28:57), Chris Mezias ’12 in 50th (29:11), Thomas Bliska ’12 in 55th (29:26), Thomas Kuczmarski ’12 in 59th (29:47), Nick Fogel ’12 in 63rd (30:02) and David Carlin ’12 in 64th (30:15).

“We have a super senior class,” Farwell said, “high both in talent and in numbers, and they have been loyal, hard-working and above all true team members.”

On Oct. 8, the men impressed at Div. I New Englands, where Koima led the varsity squad to ninth place. The team finished 56 points behind Middlebury, the top Div. III team in the race. The Ephs placed fourth among Div. III teams. The overall winner of the meet was the University of Connecticut.

The varsity race began ominously for the Ephs, who were caught in a pile-up 150 meters into the course. Fitzhenry, whom Farwell called the “most consistent performer this year,” led a group of Ephs that stayed within striking distance of each other for most of the race.

The biggest move of the day came from Rodilitz, who found himself in the back of the pack after the spill. The junior sprang back from his early deficit to pass more than half the field and catch his teammates.

Koima led the team into the chute, finishing 35th in 25:41. Following close behind were Fitzhenry in 44th (25:53), Cotton in 53rd (25:59), Rodilitz in 63rd (26:04) and Davis in 82nd (26:32). Despite coping with illnesses, Abasolo and Raduazo turned in determined performances, finishing in 98th (26:32) and 137th (27:02), respectively.

While the Ephs were disappointed to come up short against the top Div. III schools, Farwell was impressed by the effort. “The team did a good job on a very hot day, proving their toughness,” he said. “I know we’ll have our day later in the conference and regional meets.”

The Ephs, ranked 13th nationally, have a week off before competing in the NESCAC championship on Oct. 29.

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