Men’s cross country squared off against 23 visiting teams on Saturday in the annual Purple Valley Classic. This competitive field featured seven teams ranked in the latest USTFCCCA national poll: No. 3 Amherst, No. 6 MIT, No. 8 Williams, No. 13 Pomona-Pitzer, No. 16 SUNY Geneseo, No. 21 Tufts and No. 26 Middlebury.
Pomona-Pitzer and the University of Texas at Tyler each competed in the Purple Valley Classic for the first time. Head Coach Pete Farwell hopes that these teams have set a precedent for more teams from outside New England to come to this meet in future years.
Fortunately, Mother nature delivered yet another beautiful day for running. With sunny skies, temperatures in the upper sixties, and scenic views of the surrounding trees and mountains, visitors to the invitational saw the epitome of fall in New England.
The day included both open 5k and varsity 8k races for the men. In the 8k, Amherst beat Williams by the narrow margin of 42 to 45 and SUNY Geneseo scored 55 points to finish in third place. All of these teams placed three runners in the top 10 and five in the top 20. MIT with 98 points and Pomona-Pitzer with 115 points placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
Mohamed Hussein led Amherst by winning the race in 25:16. Tri-captain Bijan Mazaheri ’16 of Williams was second in 25:17 and John Fowler of Pomona-Pitzer took third in 25:39. Isaac Garcia-Cassani of SUNY Geneseo finished fourth in 25:49 and Amherst’s Dan Crowley placed fifth in 25:50.
Noah Williams ’17 and Ben Decker ’18 took seventh and ninth place, respectively in a photo finish. These two Ephs, Amherst’s Jeff Seelaus who took eighth and Geneseo’s Alex Kramer who took tenth were only separated by tenths of seconds as they all crossed the line in 26:07.
Griffin Colaizzi ’18 and Kyle Kistinger ’16 finished back-to-back in 13th and 14th place, respectively. Colaizzi ran 26:17 and Kistinger 26:18 to round out Williams’ scoring pack. Peter Hale ’17 placed 23rd in 26:25 and Liam Simpson ’18 ran 27:04 to come in 50th place.
In the open 5k race, St. Rose edged out Williams by a score of 41 to 43. Tufts took third with 51 points, while Coast Guard and Springfield rounded out the top five. Eli Hoenig ’17, running unattached as a member of Nordic ski, won the race in 16:33. Benjamin Kapuscinski of St. Rose was second in 16:34 and Zeke Cohen ’19 was third in 16:38. St. Rose’s Rastafari Morgan took fourth in 16:42 and Jack Pihno of Springfield finished fifth in 16:47.
Behind Cohen, Walker Knauss ’19 finished seventh overall in 16:49, followed by Jacob Kahrs ’19 in 12th place in 17:17. Michael Byrns ’18 took 15th in 17:23 and Jacob Cytrynbaum ’18 was 18th in 17:33. David Azzara ’19 and Ross Hoch ’19 also placed in the top seven for Williams.
The team is satisfied with its recent performance and is confident about the rest of the season. “We faced some great competition this weekend at our annual home meet,” co-captain Todd Ford ’16 said. “In addition to some of the top teams in New England, we had a couple of teams join us from Texas and California. This made for a very exciting 8k race. Per tradition, our first-years and a few upperclassmen got us started in the 5k. They paced the course well, led by first-year Zeke Cohen, and came through with some impressive performances. The rest of the upperclassmen ran the 8k shortly after and performed equally well. Our focus was to work together in groups throughout the race and build towards a strong finish. We were narrowly edged out by rival Amherst for first place, but we feel good about where we are as a team for this point in the season. Our best races are yet to come.”
This Friday, the top 15 men will travel to Bethlehem, Penn., to compete in the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University. Williams will test its mettle against top teams from all three NCAA divisions. In 2014, the Ephs took 17th place to finish as the top Div. III team for the second year in a row.