Men’s XC edges out rivals at Little Threes

October 21, 2015 by Greg Ferland, Team Correspondent

Men’s cross country continued its Little Three winning streak on Saturday, making it 28-straight wins over NESCAC rivals Amherst and Wesleyan.

The Jeffs entered the meet No. 2 in the nation in the latest USTFCCCA poll and were favored to dethrone No. 7 Ephs. Wesleyan was also ranked 22nd, making it potentially the most competitive Little Three Championship in the past decade. In a race that was close throughout, Williams pulled away with the victory by a score of 27. Amherst took second with 32 points and Wesleyan finished third with 77 points.

The 8k race went out quickly with athletes from all three schools fighting at the front. Mohamed Hussein of Amherst and tri-captain Bijan Mazaheri ’16 broke away from the field and battled to the finish. At the Purple Valley Classic in late September, the race came down to final strides as Hussein edged Mazaheri by a second. Saturday, Hussein was once again the victor, finishing in 25:47 to Mazaheri’s 25:51. These two runners are among the best in Div. III and will continue to face each other well into the postseason.

With Amherst taking the individual crown, Williams looked to its depth to earn the victory. Through much of the race, the second through fifth runners from the Ephs and the Jeffs were together in a big pack, and it was unclear which team would pull ahead for the victory. Ben Decker ’18 turned the race in Williams’ favor, however, with a decisive move on Amherst’s second runner Dan Crowley. Decker emerged from the group to take third in 26:15. Peter Hale ’17 and Griffin Colaizzi ’18 also outlasted their Amherst counterparts to earn fifth and sixth place, respectively. Only a blink of an eye separated the two Ephs, as both finished in 26:26.

Though Amherst brought in five runners before Williams did, the high places of the first four Ephs were enough to win the meet. Wesleyan also aided Williams’ victory, as the tri-meet scoring allowed the Cardinals’ Taylor Titcomb to displace the Jeff’s last three scorers. Behind this pack, Noah Williams ’17  took 11th in 26:52, Todd Ford ’16 took 12th in 26:53 and Kyle Kistinger ’16 took 14th in 27:03 to round out the Ephs’ top seven.

The team also welcomed back a few runners who have missed time due to injury. Alex Kilman ’18 and Ian Concannon ’18 both raced for the first time since the McGill Invitational on Sept. 12. David Folsom ’17 returned to competition after missing more than a year with a torn plantar fascia.

In addition to this meet, the men also came in eighth on Oct. 10 at the Westfield Invitational. Michael Byrns ’18 was the fastest racer for the Ephs, clocking in with a time of 26:57 in the 8k race.

The team is enthused by its victory. “The men faced the best Amherst team in years, one ranked second in the nation, which narrowly beat us at our home invite three weeks ago,” Head Coach Pete Farwell ’73 said. “On their home course they were going to be tough to beat. Our guys were focused, upbeat and ready for the contest, and responded to the challenge. They got out in good position, running steady and fairly high, but built the race, as planned, in the final two miles, making bold moves to pass.”

Most of the men will end their season this Saturday at the Plansky Invitational. For this meet, which takes places at Mount Greylock High School, Farwell welcomes back alumni to compete against the current team. Meanwhile, the top 12 runners will be training for the NESCAC Championships hosted by Wesleyan on Oct. 31.

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