Men’s cross country started its competitive season at the Ron Stonitsch Invitational, hosted by Vassar, and claimed a decisive victory in the race.
The men scored 34 points to top second-place RPI, with 57 points, and NYU, with 61. Host college Vassar followed NYU with 128 points.
Williams faced stiff competition from several area colleges, including nationally ranked RPI (24th) and NYU (29th) on a six-kilometer course that was shorter than the usual distance the men compete at. The course length, coupled with unusually hot and humid weather, provided an important test of the athletes’ early-season fitness and summer preparation.
“Although our team felt the effects of Saturday’s muggy weather, our conservative race plan stopped us from wilting during the race,” tri-captain Peter Hale ’17 said. “We kept our paces in check until the final mile, picking up speed on the downhills and moving well through the 200-person field. We saw some great performances from our freshmen in their debut college race and a strong showing from our seniors.”
The Ephs ran controlled in defined packs early on. Toward the front, a pack of four runners set the pace, including tri-captain Peter Hale ’17, Ben Decker ’18, Griffin Colaizzi ’18 and David Folsom ’17. After a conservative first half of the race, Williams made a strong surge up the largest hill on the course and moved through the field, with Hale and Decker battling for the lead.
Ultimately, Jorge Maldonado, from NYU, pulled away over the last 600 meters to win in 19:08. Decker followed with a strong close to finish in 19:19.8 for second. Hale took third place in 19:23.6. Colaizzi was next for the Ephs, finishing in 19:32.6, which was vggood for sixth place.
Austin Anderson ’19 and Folsom rounded out the top five Ephs, each finishing with big kicks in 19:38.4 and 19:41.2, for ninth and 11th place respectively. Tri-captain Noah Williams ’17 and Mitch Morris ’19, running his debut cross country race, also placed in the top 25 overall, with times of 19:50.4 and 20:01.6, respectively.
Multiple first-year runners had strong performances at the Invitational in their debut collegiate cross country race.
Peter Kirgis ’20 finished in 20:05, Ryan Cox ’20 finished in 20:08.9 and Kevin LaFleche ’20 finished in 20:09.4.
“From here, we’ll be preparing for the Purple Valley Classic [at home] on Sept. 24,” Hale said, “There, we’ll be facing strong competition from across the New England region.”