On Saturday, men’s cross country travelled to Colby for the 2016 NESCAC Championships and took home its fourth consecutive conference title.
The runners entered the weekend ranked No. 1 in the NESCAC by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, followed by Amherst, Colby and Middlebury.
The men are now ranked No. 3 in the latest national rankings, making them one of five NESCAC teams that are nationally ranked. The other four teams include Amherst (No. 8), Colby (No. 14), Middlebury (No. 21) and Conn. College (No. 31).
On Saturday, Tufts’ Tim Nichols broke away from the field early on and won the 8k race in 24:58. He was followed by his teammate, Luke O’Connor, who finished in 25:27. Colby’s David Chelimo finished third in 25:33. Tri-captain Peter Hale ’17, usually one of the top Eph runners, missed the meet due to a minor calf injury. However, Ben Decker ’18 ran well in his absence, leading the chase pack at times and finishing seventh in 26:11, first for the Ephs in a continuation of his string of impressive results this season.
Adeptly negotiating the muddy turns and constant hills on the course, the Ephs behind Decker moved up well as the race progressed. Moving around packs rather than within them, each Eph bore down in the final miles, eventually edging Amherst with 83 points to their 100. Middlebury and Tufts tied for third place with 126 points each.
Liam Simpson ’18 joined Decker in achieving All-NESCAC honors. Simpson finished in 26:21 for 12th overall.
Simpson was followed by Austin Anderson ’19, who moved up relentlessly in the final two miles to finish in 26:32 for 19th overall. Right behind Anderson came Griffin Colaizzi ’18, kicking hard for 26:32 and 20th place. Rounding out the scoring five was tri-captain Noah Williams ’17, who ran 26:41 for 25th place.
Following Williams was Ryan Cox ’20, who ran 26:57 for 33rd, Zeke Cohen ’19, who ran 27:04, and Peter Kirgis ’20, who finished eighth in 27:22.
Behind Kirgis, a strong corps of runners rounded out Williams’ performance. Luke Hinz ’17 ran 27:57 (79th), followed by tri-captain Nigel Bates ’17 in 28:10 (88th) and Isaac Goodman ’20, who ran 28:40.
“Our men ran without Little Three champ Hale and thus knew it would take a full team effort to capture the win,” Head Coach Pete Farwell ’73 said. “We held back a bit in the first half, including on the big hill, and with a strong push [the team] managed to pass enough competitors to overcome Tufts and the other contenders: Middlebury and host Colby.”
“Anderson continues to improve and placed as our third man for the first time,” Farwell continued. “Cox was our sixth finisher (in 31st place), which displaced Amherst’s fifth man and those other teams’ fourth and fifth men. We look forward to racing these teams again, along with a very fast MIT group, at the Regional in a week and a half.”
Next Sunday, some of the runners not in the top seven will compete at the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country New England Championships in Franklin Park, Mass., near Boston.
The top runners will rest in preparations for the NCAA Northeast Regional at Westfield State on Nov. 12.
Following this meet, some runners will move on to NCAA Div. III Championships in Louisville, Ky. on Nov. 19, the last meet of the season.