The Purple Valley Invitational, a meet held at the Ephs’ home course at Mount Regional Greylock High School last Saturday, hosted a good range of talent from across the Northeast. Attending schools included MIT, ranked fifth nationally coming in to the race, Colby, Buffalo State and rival Amherst. While the men fought hard, the race unfortunately did not result in a victory, as MIT took home first. The men finished behind MIT and just edged out Middlebury to clinch the second-place spot among the 13 competing teams.
The 8k course at Mount Greylock is a challenging one; while the course itself is relatively fair, the 8k distance encompasses four laps’ worth of rolling hills. The strategy for this race, according to Head Coach Peter Farwell ’73, was to hold back at first and then push hard at the end of the race. The men ran according to plan, remaining relatively close to one another during the first half, with neither Colin Cotton ’17 nor tri-captain Chris Lee ’14 taking the lead until the final lap of the course. On the first lap, a small pack of several Ephs immediately separated themselves from the main group and gradually separated more throughout the race. “Those who ran … executed the strategy well: to be patient until the last 2000 meters and then kick,” Lee said.
The Ephs handily captured the top two spots in the 8k race, thanks to Cotton and Lee, respectively. By the end of the race, Cotton had put on an impressive lead, crossing the finish line with a strong kick in 25:56. All-American Lee was not far behind, taking second with a final time of 26:09. MIT runners took the next three spots, followed by two Middlebury runners. Bijan Mazaheri ’16 was eighth overall and third for the Ephs in 26:28. Daniel Siegel ’15 was the next Eph to cross the finish line, taking 22nd in 27:21. Rounding out the top seven for the Ephs were Andrew Beaudoin ’15 in 27:27 for 26th place, Todd Ford ’16 in 27:39 for 36th place and tri-captain Peter Drews ’14 in 27:44 for 42nd place.
“It’s a blessing having two runners as talented as Colin Cotton and Chris Lee,” Drews said. “They give us a chance to compete at any meet.”
In a testament to the team’s remarkable depth, the men’s second-place finish was attained without an intact contingent of runners. Several men were unable to compete due to injury or illness. Peter Hale ’17 didn’t race due to mild knee tendonitis, and David Folsom ’17 competed in the JV race instead of the varsity race, running the 5k in a time of 16:29. Both rookies were in the top seven at the McGill Invitational on Sept. 14. Aldis Inde ’15, who had placed fifth for the team last week, was out with a mild hamstring injury as well.
Overall, given the good performance at this invitational despite the various difficulties the team faced, the Ephs are in great shape for the approaching competitions. This weekend the men will make the trip to Lehigh, Pa., for the Paul Short Invitational, where they will be properly armed to take on some of the nation’s best teams in the biggest invitational on the East Coast. “We’ll bring together all the pieces then,” Lee said.