Men’s cross country traveled to Lehigh University last Saturday to compete at the 41st-annual Paul Short Invitational. This day-long festival featured 14 men’s and women’s races across high school, collegiate and open divisions, drawing over 5500 runners from more than 400 high schools and colleges across the country. The top 10 Ephs competed in the Gold 8k race, the premier men’s event of the day. The competition included nationally ranked Div. I teams from Villanova and Iona, Div. II powerhouse Adams State and the No. 1 team in Canada, the University of Guelf. The nationally-ranked competition from Div. III included St. Lawrence University, Johns Hopkins and Bates. Four other Williams runners competed in the open race of nearly 500 that included both collegiate and professional athletes.
The Ephs earned 17th place in the Gold race and topped all Div. III schools in the field of 359 runners from 42 colleges and universities. Notably, Williams defeated the squad from St. Lawrence three weeks after losing a close contest to the team at Saratoga Springs. The U.S. Naval Academy won the Gold race by an 18-point margin over the University of Guelf. A year ago, brutally hot temperatures hindered performance and led to the cancellation of many of the day’s races. This year, the all-grass course stood up to recent rain, and mild temperatures ultimately made for fast conditions.
The best effort of the day for Williams belonged to Colin Cotton ’17, who set a new school record in the 8k after finishing in 24:10. Cotton was the top Div. III individual, placing 14th overall, and he improved on his performance in the 2013 Paul Short Run where he finished 20th. Cotton was rewarded for his performance by being named NESCAC Athlete of the Week.
The Ephs’ second man to finish was Bijan Mazaheri ’16. He ran to a 30th-place finish in a personal best time of 24:29. Ben Decker ’18 continued his exceptional campaign with a fast time of 25:31 in his first 8k competition. He finished 139th overall. Right behind him was tri-captain Aldis Inde ’15, who ran 25:33 en route to 144th place. Williams’ fifth man was Todd Ford ’16, who ran well after sitting out last week’s Purple Valley Classic. Ford was 168th overall in a time of 25:41.
Tri-captain Andrew Beaudoin ’15 and tri-captain Daniel Siegel ’15 finished within two seconds of each other as the Ephs’ sixth and seventh finishers, respectively. Beaudoin ran 25:55, while Siegel finished in 25:57. Rounding out the Ephs’ performance were Nigel Bates ’17 in 26:19, Liam Simpson ’18 in 26:22 and Griffin Colaizzi ’18 in 26:56.
Since teams are limited to 10 entries in the Gold race, Kyle Kistinger ’16, Kieran Scannell ’17, Luke Hinz ’17 and Alex Kilman ’18 ran in the open race. Kistinger placed 50th in a time of 26:02, while Scannell finished 70th in 26:21. Hinz ran 26:42 for 144th place, and Kilman crossed the line 176th in 27:12
“The team did a great job of running smart, not getting pulled out too fast with the rest of the field,” Inde said. “This allowed us to push the second half of the race and in the end perform really well against some strong competition. Colin [Cotton] and Bijan [Mazaheri] had particularly great races, proving they can mix it up with some of the best individuals in Div. II and Div. I.”
Next week, the men will travel to Westfield State for the James Earley Invitational.