Men’s XC triumphs at NESCACs

Joe LaRocca

The men secured the NESCAC title on Saturday, breaking Amherst’s two-year winning streak. (Photo courtesy of Sports Information.)

For the first time since 2016, men’s cross country won the NESCAC championship on Saturday, with seven Ephs finishing in the top 11 runners and winning All-NESCAC Honors.

The win by the Ephs broke Amherst’s two-year winning streak and delivered the College’s 18th NESCAC title.

In a dominant effort, the Ephs continued their successful 2019 season with 22 points, well ahead of the Mammoths, who finished second with 97, and third-place Middlebury, with 107. Aidan Ryan ’21 continued his streak of winning every race he’s run in so far, pacing the Ephs with a time of 25:27.3 – 14 seconds ahead of second-place Middlebury runner Theo Henderson. 

Overall, the Ephs finished seven runners in the top 11, eight in the top 20 and nine in the top 30. No other team finished with more than four runners in the top 30. No runner for Amherst, who finished in second place, finished higher than top 14. The gap between the Ephs and the Mammoths (75 points) was greater than the gap between the Mammoths and sixth-place Connecticut College Camels (60 points).

“For us to place all those guys and for them to run that well was a beautiful, amazing thing to watch and to be a part of,” remarked head coach Pete Farwell ’73 following the championship win. Although Ryan finished far ahead of the pack, the gap between him and the Ephs’ fifth finisher was just 25.3 seconds, a testament to the impressive depth the men have shown all season.

“It’s rare that we get an individual champ,” said Farwell on Ryan’s performance today. “The season he’s having has been incredible.” Nick Gannon ’21 finished third in 25:42.8, just one second behind Middlebury’s Henderson. A pack of four Ephs, all of whom finished between 25:47.9 and 25:53.3, were not far behind, with Ryan Cox ’20, Elias Lindgren ’22, Tristan Colaizzi ’20 and William McGovern ’20 finishing in fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively. Kenneth Marshall ’20 capped off the Ephs’ top seven with an 11th-place finish in 26:02.5.

“From top to bottom, everyone in that group outperformed and outshined expectations,” Farwell said. “That’s one of the lowest scores in the history of NESCAC.”

Since Ryan, Gannon, Cox, Lindgren, Colaizzi, McGovern and Marshall all finished in the top 14, they each earned All-NESCAC honors. But it wasn’t just the top Eph runners who shined. Lucas Estrada ’20 finished in 20th place with a time of 26:29.8, marking a race that Farwell called “the race of his life.” Kevin LaFleche ’20 finished in 30th, with an especially impressive kick towards the end of the race. “I don’t know how many guys he passed in the last 800 meters, maybe 20 or something,” quipped Farwell. Ben Hearon ’20, the last Eph runner to finish, came in 62nd place out of 145 runners, meaning every single Eph placed in the top half of the race.

Next Sunday, the Ephs will compete in the USATF New England race in Boston.