No. 11 men’s cross country notched a win at home on Saturday, surging past 22 teams to take first in the Purple Valley Classic. With conditions mild and favorable, the men faced teams spanning all three NCAA divisions. The Ephs were helped by dominant performances from their tri-captains, who each turned in top-15 performances to propel the men over second-place Middlebury. Overall, the Ephs scored 39 points, easily outdistancing the ninth-ranked Panthers, who racked up a 72-point total. NYU snagged third place, banking a total of 85 points.
Race day unfolded perfectly for quick times on the course, which consisted of two loops around the hilly woods surrounding Mount Greylock Regional High School. Temperatures were comfortable, in the low 70s and complemented by partly cloudy skies and low humidity.
The varsity race took off at a moderate tempo, with the runners coming through the flat first mile in 5:17. As the runners scaled the first hills, Elphas Kimutai of the New York Institute of Technology opened up a gap on the field.
The men quickly responded, forming a couple of packs within striking distance of the leader. Throughout these first few miles, tri-captain Wade Davis ’13 paced the Ephs, consistently remaining among the top five runners in the field.
Once the race entered the second loop, Kimutai fell back to the field. Tri-captain Scott Rodilitz ’13 joined Davis at the front of the race, while Chris Lee ’14, tri-captain Brandon Abasolo ’13 and Max LaBerge ’14 trailed close behind.
Approaching the last hill, the race was still up for grabs until Tufts’ Ben Wallis charged forward to claim a sizable advantage. Rodilitz used an acceleration of his own to close the gap on his opponent, but in the end, Wallis eked out the victory at 26:13. Rodilitz claimed second in 26:17, closely followed by Middlebury’s Patrick Hebble with a finishing time of 26:20.
Davis was the next Eph across the line, finishing sixth in 26:23. Lee continued a strong start to the year with a ninth-place finish in 26:36, while Abasolo bounced back from an August injury to take 13th at 26:48. LaBerge rounded out the top five for the Ephs, taking 14th place in 26:49. Peter Watson ’13 continued to demonstrate his form with a 34th-place effort in 27:28. He was followed by Andrew Beaudoin ’15, who marked steady improvement with his first-ever varsity finish, taking 40th place in 27:41.
Head Coach Pete Farwell ’73 was especially pleased with his seniors after the victory. “[They] committed on May 12 to having their best summer training ever,” he said. “They then trained like champions, and now they’re showing that they can race like champions.”
“[The] Purple Valley [Invite] was our first real test,” Davis said. “It was exciting to put all five scorers in the top 15 at a very competitive meet. Summer training is paying off, and we’ll be seeing even bigger results as more guys recover from lingering injuries and colds.”
Next, the men will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Williams cross country at the Alumni Bowl on Saturday at Mount Greylock High School. The meet will begin at 12:30 p.m. Many of the runners will have the week off to recover from last weekend’s effort and get revved up for the start of championship season.
Farwell is excited for the upcoming championship season and thinks his team has the potential to go far. “When we can come out on top in a field of this caliber, we know that our potential is becoming a reality,” Farwell said.