WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- It was baseball legend, Hall of Famer, and St. Louis native Yogi Berra who starred for the N.Y. Yankees who said, "It ain't over till it's over."
Once again the wit and wisdom of Berra proved to be true as the Williams College Ephs came from behind in the 2016-17 Directors' Cup to overtake Washington University St. Louis (Wash U.) with a record-breaking spring campaign. Wash U. led through the fall and winter seasons and took a 131.75-point lead into the spring season.
Points are awarded in the Directors' Cup competition based on how an institution's teams fare in NCAA Championship events. Each school is permitted to utilize their highest scores in nine men's and nine women's sports.
Williams trailed in the competition at the end of the fall season by 188 points as the Wash U. Bears tallied 410 points from six sports, while the Ephs scored 222 points from just three sports. At the end of the fall the Ephs were tied for 10th place in the Cup standings with MIT.
On March 30th when the winter standings were released Wash U. was still leading in the Cup standings and the Bears now had a fall-winter total of 837.0 points. Williams had fashioned a strong winter campaign, scoring in seven sports and totaling 487.50 points. The successful winter season elevated the Ephs from 10th place to second place in the standings.
With the spring season looming Wash U.'s lead was now down from 188.0 points in the fall to 131.75 points, which was still a healthy lead.
Just as the warm weather reached New England (well, for a few days anyway) the Eph teams heated up.
Eight Eph teams combined to score a spring record 630 points, assuring that the Directors' Cup would be coming to Williamstown. The 630 spring sports points are a record in Directors' Cup scoring in any season.
Williams averaged an impressive 78.5 points per team in the spring. Wash U. accumulated 390 points from their six scoring spring teams for an average of 65.0 points per team.
Even though both Wash U. and Williams scored in the maximum 18 sports allowed (nine men and nine women) the Eph final total of 1,335.25 surpassed the Wash U. Bears' total of 1,227.0 by an impressive 108.25 points.
The Eph total of 1,335.25 points is also a record total score in NCAA DIII. On the year the Ephs trotted out 11 teams that finished in the top five nationally, including five spring teams. Williams won one NCAA title in women's tennis, while Wash U's women won cross-country, indoor and outdoor track & field crowns.
The Eph women's tennis team coached by Allison Swain '01 won its 8th NCAA title in the last 10 years. Swain has won the most NCAA titles of any Williams coach and her team's 10 overall titles is the most in NCAA DIII women's tennis and the most won by one team at Williams.
To score 630 points in a season requires some outstanding team and individual efforts.
Middlebury led the Eph women's tennis team 4-1 in the NCAA semifinal match. Senior Linda Shin was down a set and down 3-0 in the second set before she somehow managed to win the second and third sets and help send the Ephs to the championship match, where Williams edged Emory 5-4.
Not to be overlooked in the spring string of successes by Eph teams was the men's golf team making the NCAA Tournament and becoming the first NESCAC team to make the final cut of 18 teams (from 42 entered) and playing all four rounds.
Men's tennis lost to Amherst in the regular season and then proceeded to defeat the Mammoths in both the NESCAC and NCAA tournaments to advance to the national quarterfinals for the first time since 2013.
The Eph softball team set a record for most wins in a season with 38, but the Ephs were on the verge of being shutout in consecutive games and falling in the Super Regional final when they scored six runs in the sixth inning in game three to advance.
The Eph softball season ended in Oklahoma City when they finished third in the nation. Williams recorded an elimination game win over Amherst 4-1 (5th win in six games this season over the Mammoths) and advanced to the Final Four.
Women's track & field (6th) and men's track and field both (19th) exceeded their national rankings entering the NCAA championships with the women finishing third and the men coming in 13th.
Props to first year high jumper Emma Egan who won the women's high jump with a school record effort of 5-9.25. Tying for seventh place the high jump were first year Summer Solstice-Thomas and junior Helene Hall. Senior Chloe Rogers earned All-America honors in both the long and triple jumps and classmate Candice Dyce earned All-America honors in the triple jump. Senior Emma Zehner turned in All-American efforts in both the 10K and the 5K.
Hats off to senior distance runner Peter Hale for following up his indoor NCAA title in the 3K by winning the outdoor NCAA 5K and junior Tobias Muellers for breaking the school record in the decathlon with 6,870 points and finishing second at the NCAA championships.
Sophomore Cordelia Chan picked up her second All-America honor in golf and led the Eph team to a fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships played at Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston. It was the Ephs' sixth consecutive top five finish at the NCAAs.
Women's crew recorded a win in the V1 Grand Final to earn the title of Fastest Boat in DIII and the V2, which had to overcome injuries and seat changes, finished third to help the Ephs finish second overall at the NCAA Championships.
The NESCAC placed four teams in the top 10 this year with Williams (1), Tufts (3), Middlbury (7) and Amherst (8).
Eph Scoring Teams in 2016-17:
W Soccer – 73.0
M X-C – 69.0
W X-C – 80.0
Fall Total – 222.0
M Basketball – 83.0
(M) Skiing – 54.0
M Swim/Dive – 72.0
W Swim/Dive – 90.0
M T&F – 63.25
W T&F – 80.0
Wrestling – 40.0
Winter Total – 483.25
Fall – Winter Total – 705.25
W Crew – 90.0
M Golf – 58.5
W Golf – 80.0
Softball – 83.0
M Tennis – 73.0
W Tennis – 100.0
M Track & Field – 63.0
W Track & Field – 82.5
Spring Total – 630.0
Final – 1,335.25
Top 10 Teams in NCAA DIII
1 – Williams – 1,335.25
2 – Wash U. – 1,227.0
3 – Tufts – 926.75
4 – CMS – 895.0
5 – Johns Hopkins – 864.50
6 – Wisconsin-Whitewater – 843.75
7 – Middlebury –836.50
8 – Amherst – 769.50
9 – Emory –762.0
10 – Ithaca – 716.0