Men’s cross country defends NESCAC title

Last Saturday, men’s cross country successfully defended its NESCAC Championship title against a formidable field of conference opponents. Williams entered the meet ranked No. 3 in the country, but faced tough challengers in No. 7 Colby, No. 9 Middlebury and No. 16 Amherst. The Ephs rose to the occasion and delivered a spectacular performance. The win marked the seventh NESCAC title in the last nine years by the men and raised their overall title total to 15.

After battling it out through strong winds and cold temperatures on Middlebury’s hilly 8K course, the Ephs amassed an impressive 39 points in the victory. Colby took second with 76 points and Middlebury finished third with a score of 80.

David Chelimo of Colby led the race from the start, but the Ephs’ Colin Cotton ’17 played it smart and waited to make his move. Cotton’s chance came with about a mile to go, and from there to the finish he continued to widen his gap on Chelimo. Cotton cruised to the victory in 24:56, followed by Chelimo in 25:12.

With the win, Cotton was the first of four All-NESCAC performers for Williams. Bijan Mazaheri ’16 was third overall in 25:13, only a second back from Chelimo. With a late surge, Mazaheri reeled in the fading Chelimo and nearly caught him at the line.

Tri-captain Aldis Inde ’15 finished fourth in 25:17, only steps behind his teammate. Coming off a strong third-place finish at the Little Three Championships, Inde again produced a spectacular performance to give the men three of the top four finishers. Together, Cotton, Mazaheri and Inde earned First Team All-NESCAC honors, an award given to each of the top seven finishers in the race.

Ben Decker ’18 placed 11th in 25:30 to take home Second Team All-NESCAC honors. In addition, Decker earned the Rookie of the Year award as the first freshman runner to cross the finish line. Amherst first-year Mohamed Hussein had been the top rookie performer in the NESCAC this season and finished 13 seconds ahead of Decker at the Little Three Championships. This time, though, Decker outkicked Hussein to win by only one second. With this performance, Decker joins Cotton and Mazaheri as current Williams runners who have won the NESCAC Rookie of the Year award.

The Ephs’ fifth man to finish was Cole Townsend ’15, who ran a time of 25:59 to put him in 20th place. Townsend worked closely throughout the race with his teammate, tri-captain Daniel Siegel ’15, who took 23rd place in 26:04. Kyle Kistinger ‘16 finished with a time of 26:18 to take 36th overall. With this performance, Kistinger placed amongst the top seven Williams runners for the first time in his collegiate career.

Williams’ eighth runner was Noah Williams ’17, who placed 44th in 26:27. Griffin Colaizzi ’18 was 53rd in 26:37, followed by tri-captain Andrew Beaudoin ’15 in 56th place with a time of 26:41. Kieran Scannell ’17 was 85th in 27:06, while Nigel Bates ’17 ran 27:07 to place 86th and round out the men’s performance.

“NESCACs was a great display of both our top end talent and the great depth we have as a team this year,” Inde said. “Putting three runners in the top four was obviously a great result. I think everyone is really excited to see what we can do the rest of championship season.”

The next step for Williams is the NCAA Div. III New England Regional Championships, which the Ephs will host at Mount Greylock High School on November 15. There, Williams will face these same NESCAC opponents as well as national No. 11 MIT. The top two teams in this meet earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Div. III Championships on November 22 in Mason, Ohio.

On Saturday, the Ephs’ second seven will travel to Westfield, Mass. for the ECAC Championships. Since many ECAC teams will go on to compete at the Regional Championships the following weekend, they usually rest most or all of their top seven athletes.