Men’s cross country races to 25th consecutive Little Three title

No. 13 men’s cross country seized its 25th straight title at the annual Little Three Championship at Amherst on Saturday. Led by individual champion Chris Lee ’14, the Ephs rolled with four runners in the top five overall. The victory came after a disappointing eighth-place finish at the All-Divisions New England competition on Oct. 7.

Race day for Little Threes unfolded with agreeable weather of sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-50s. The Amherst course consisted of two loops around a grassy field, complemented by sections of dirt trails. After a week of steady rain, the course was cut up, especially in the grassy sections.

Amherst attempted to seize control of the race from the gun, establishing a strong group at the front. Williams countered with a pack of its own, led by tri-captains Scott Rodilitz ’13, Brandon Abasolo ’13 and Wade Davis ’13.

The field took a while to string out, as the three teams battled to a draw through the first few miles. In fact, as late as the second field loop, Amherst looked like it might stop the Williams winning streak at 24.

But as the teams battled through the mud, Lee broke away from the field with his captains close behind. In the end, only Wesleyan’s Bryan Marsh was able to break up the four Williams runners, taking second place. Lee won with a blistering time of 26:11.8, while Davis took third in 26:19, Rodilitz claimed fourth with a 26:19 finish and Abasolo snared fifth in 26: 23. Max LaBerge ’14 continued his steady form by sealing up the race for the Ephs with a 10th-place finish after crossing the line at 26:58.

Rookie Bijan Mazaheri ’16 and Aldis Inde ’15 rounded out the Ephs’ top seven, finishing in 13th at 27:15 and in 18th on the strength of a 17:29 result, respectively. Steve Mendoza ’13 came in 20th at 27:31, rookie Todd Ford ’16 in 21st at 27:36 and Andrew Beaudoin ’15 in 23rd at 27:59. With their finishes, Peter Drews ’14 in 25th at 28:10 and Peter Watson ’13 in 27th at 28:18 cemented their status on the team’s NESCAC squad.

Overall, the Ephs scored 23 points, outdistancing the Jeffs’ 46 points and the Cardinals’ 61.

“It’s great to extend our winning streak to 25 years and add to the school’s tradition of beating Amherst and Wesleyan,” Rodilitz said. The tri-captain was pleased with the men’s performance, especially since many of the Ephs’ top five were sick the previous week. “I was really impressed with how our guys handled themselves given that a lot of them were at less than 100 percent,” he said.

Little Threes was a nice bounce-back from a disappointing finish at the New England All-Divisions race on Oct. 7. The men lost to fellow NESCAC rivals Bowdoin and Tufts, while taking eighth in a deep field of Div. I teams. Lee also paced the Ephs in that race, finishing first of the Williams men and 30th overall in 25:08. Davis was close behind in 39th with a time of 25:15, while LaBerge was the third finisher in 25:34, taking 65th overall. Rodilitz and Abasolo came in neck-and-neck, running 25:37 for 73rd and 25:41 for 78th, respectively. Mazaheri and Watson rounded out the Eph top seven in 25:51 for 81st and 26:12 for 135th, respectively.

Currently, the men are ranked 13th in the Div. III national poll behind defending national champion North Central (Ill.). The Ephs have a chance to improve on their ranking at the NESCAC Championship where they will meet four teams in the top 20, including fourth-ranked Bates. That race will take place on Oct. 27 at Bowdoin. Prior to that race, a select number of individuals will also compete for Williams at the Plansky Invitational on Oct. 20.