Men’s cross country takes gold at NESCACs

On Saturday, men’s cross country traveled to Wesleyan for the 2015 NESCAC Championships. The Ephs, No. 2 in the latest national coaches’ poll, are one of five nationally ranked teams in the conference. This group also includes No. 5 Amherst, No. 19 Bates, No. 29 Wesleyan and No. 31 Tufts. Williams won the NESCAC title with a low score of 36 points. Amherst finished second with 61 points and Tufts placed third with a score of 99.

Amherst’s Mohamed Hussein won the 8k race, finishing in 24:43. He battled back and forth with Eph tri-captain Bijan Mazaheri ’16 before pulling away in the final meters. Mazaheri placed second with a time of 24:49. Dan Crowley of Amherst took third in 25:01 and Ben Decker ’18 of Williams was fourth in 25:07. Each of these runners broke the previous course record of 25:09, set by Neal Holtshute ’06.

The team race was bunched up at the top through the first two miles with many runners vying for position. When the leaders began to separate from the rest of the field, it was a close battle among Williams, Amherst and Tufts. Each team had two harriers in the top six, which meant the race would come down to who had the deepest scoring squad. In the end, the Ephs proved they had that depth and took the team title with a low score of 36 points. The victory was Williams’ fourth-straight conference title and their eighth in the past 10 years.

The Ephs’ strong performance was the result of having five All-Conference runners. Mazaheri, Decker and Peter Hale ’17, who took seventh in 25:19, earned first-team All-NESCAC honors. Griffin Colaizzi ’18, who took ninth in 25:25, and Todd Ford ’16, who took 14th in 25:33, earned second-team honors. Noah Williams ’17 narrowly missed an All-Conference finish as well, finishing 15th in 25:34. Hale, Colaizzi, Ford and Williams all dug deep over the final miles to pass key runners from other schools. Colaizzi had a particularly impressive performance, having never dipped under the 26-minute mark before today.

Kyle Kistinger ’16 finished 21st in 25:58 and Liam Simpson ’18 took 28th in 26:07. As the Ephs’ seventh and eighth finishers, these two athletes beat every other school’s fifth man. This kind of depth has been the Ephs’ biggest strength all season long.

Behind this top pack, a corps of underclassmen rounded out the team’s strong performances at the meet. Zeke Cohen ’19 was the Ephs’ top first-year, finishing 70th in 26:53. Behind him, Zachary Dulabon ’18 took 79th in 27:07, Walker Knauss ’19 took 91st in 27:32 and Lucas Estrada ’19 placed 118th in 28:33.

The team is thrilled to have held its NESCAC title for four years. “The men have been on a mission and continue to race together and at their best when they need to, all the while training strongly to even more peak performances in the final meets,” Head Coach Pete Farwell ’73 said.

This Saturday, the men will host the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships at Mount Greylock Regional High School. The top seven athletes will rest in preparation for the Div. III New England Regional Championships on Nov. 14. This gives the Ephs’ second seven the opportunity to compete against a strong ECAC field. The men have won nine of the past ten ECAC titles.

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