Men’s XC upsets Midd. for conference crown

After a disappointing fifth-place finish last year, men’s cross country came back to capture the NESCAC title last Saturday at Conn. College. In a highly competitive conference, the biggest threat being national No. 4 Middlebury, the men held their own. “Midd. is a really good team and came in ranked fourth in the nation,” tri-captain Chris Lee ’14 said. “That said, I think everybody on the roster was pretty confident in our own abilities and knew that if we took care of business we could leave with a victory.”

“Our men came up with a superlative team performance, running patiently in good position and turning on the jets over the final two miles to move up in the field and capture the title,” Head Coach Pete Farwell ’73 said.

In Saturday’s NESCAC Championship, Colin Cotton ’17 came in first for Williams and second overall with a time of 24:35.2. Lee followed him in fifth place overall in a time of 24:57.4. Both men earned First Team All-NESCAC honors. “Colin and Chris are a blessing for the team,” tri-captain Peter Drews ’14 said. “They are consistently in the top of really competitive fields. They give us a chance to win any meet.”

Bijan Mazaheri ’16 also cracked the top 10 with an amazing performance. With one mile to go, Mazaheri passed 13 runners to finish ninth in 25:07.1, earning him Second Team All-NESCAC. Aldis Inde ’15 and tri-captain Max LaBerge ’14 were fourth and fifth, respectively, for Williams, overall placing 17th in 25:28.9 and 18th in 25:29.9, respectively. Peter Hale ’17 came in next for the Ephs in 20th, running a time of 25:33.4.

“It is so tough to come back from an injury and have confidence in your fitness and in your health,” Lee said. “[Hale] had a great race, especially for a freshman not as experienced in the 8k. He could be an ‘X’ factor come Regionals.”

Drews finished off the top seven for the men, finishing in front of Middlebury’s fifth runner to secure the win for Williams. Drews ran the course in 25:34.6. “Our depth proved [we] could excel, putting seven finishers ahead of Middlebury’s fifth man to secure what was through four men an even-up battle,” Farwell said. “The final kicks of LaBerge, Hale and Drews were phenomenal. Our coaching staff is extraordinarily proud of our team’s training, spirit and competitive savvy that has garnered them a victory they and we will long remember.”

The next competition for the Ephs comes this weekend at ECACs, where the second seven will race in Bristol, R.I., on Saturday. The top seven will next race on Nov. 16 at the Div. III New England Championships at Southern Maine, where the men will try to earn a spot in the Div. III NCAA Championships. The Ephs were ranked No. 6 nationally heading into last week’s NESCAC Championships, and this week’s rankings will be released today.