Men’s XC clinches 27th straight Little Three title

Last Saturday, runners from Amherst and Wesleyan traveled to Williamstown for the annual Little Three Championship. The men’s 8k course at Mount Greylock Regional High School propelled the athletes to some great performances.

Williams has won 41 Little Three titles since 1970, including all of the past 26. Saturday, the Ephs continued their streak with their 27th-straight victory. They amassed only 19 points to Amherst’s 45, while Wesleyan finished in third with a score of 68. Amherst’s lead runners took the race out at a brisk pace, but Williams’ front pack stayed patient. Within two miles, the Ephs had closed the gap and at the three-mile mark only one Jeff stood among the pack of Colin Cotton ’17, Bijan Mazaheri ’16, Ben Decker ’18 and tri-captain Aldis Inde ’15. At the finish line, it was Cotton with the win in 25:48 followed by Mazaheri in 25:55.

Inde finished third in 26:01 for his best performance of this season. The tri-captain was in the lead pack throughout the race and played an important role in the Ephs’ victory by out-kicking Amherst’s top runner, Hussein. With 800 meters to go, the two were neck-and-neck, but Inde started to pull away as he began his finishing kick. In the last quarter mile, however, Hussein overtook Inde and streaked towards the finish line. Not to be outdone, Inde found his top speed in the final straightaway and beat Hussein by a stride.

Decker finished sixth overall in a time of 26:14, closely followed by his teammate Cole Townsend ’15 in 26:17. The Ephs’ sixth and seventh runners were Noah Williams ’17 and tri-captain Daniel Siegel ’15, respectively. These two runners worked together for the entire race, and in the end Williams crossed the line in 26:49 while Siegel followed right behind in 26:50.

Five out of the next seven places belonged to the Ephs, with Kyle Kistinger ’16 finishing 17th in 26:53. Griffin Colaizzi ’18 was 19th in 27:00, while Nigel Bates ’17 took 20th in 27:16 and Kieran Scannell ’17 was 21st in 27:23. Tri-captain Andrew Beaudoin ’15 placed 23rd in 27:42. Each of these runners finished before Wesleyan’s third man.

On Oct. 11, the team earned a runner-up finish at Westfield State’s James Earley Invitational. Those who did not compete at Paul Short on Oct. 4 represented the men at Westfield in a field of 388 runners from 37 schools. The host, Westfield State, won the race with a score of 55 over Williams’ 93. Vassar finished third with 126 points.

The top individual in the race was Townsend. Townsend got out early with the lead pack and held his ground through the first four miles of the race. With 400 meters to go, he kicked ahead of runner-up Tom Higgins of Siena to win the race in 25:49.

This Saturday, the Ephs return to action on their home course in the Plansky Invitational. Named in honor of the great Tony Plansky, this meet welcomes back alumni to compete in an open 5k race. Then, on Nov. 1, the championship season kicks off at Middlebury where Williams’ top 12 runners will compete in the 2014 NESCAC Championships.

“They [the men] ran confidently and calmly in order to produce a great finish,” Assistant Coach Sarah Lagasse said. “They have many solid performances that they can draw confidence from as we enter championship season.”