Williamstown, MA—Men's cross country head coach Pete Farwell will open his his 39th season coaching on September 16 at the McGill Invitational in Montreal.
The Ephs will be looking to continue their long streak of success under Farwell's eye that has included 29 straight Little Three titles and 4 consecutive NESCAC titles. Last year, the Ephs also finished 2nd in a tiebreaker at the NCAA New England Regional Championship and finished 9th at NCAA Championships.
Former Eph and All-American Dusty Lopez '01 will be returning to coach this year for the 2nd year in a row and 4th year total. Former UNC-Chapel Hill standout Sami Jorgensen will also assist the team this season as a coach. "Coach Jorgensen brings to the team lots of positive energy and a fine knowledge of training progressions and alternate exercise workouts," said Farwell.
In the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason poll, the Ephs are ranked 4th nationally, and 1st in the New England region.
Lost to graduation are two of the top seven runners that competed in the 2016 NCAA Championship race, co-captains Peter Hale '17 and Noah Williams '17. Both athletes were vocal leaders and outstanding runners, particularly Hale, a two-time NCAA champion. Farwell celebrated their success, explaining that "Peter and Noah were bastions of our team throughout their careers, and set a model of training to be followed. They were great competitors, with well-paced races and flying kicks." He believes his team can follow in their footsteps, saying "this year's team has lots of 'fast depth' to move up into those spots, though!"
The five returning Ephs from last year's nationals squad include co-captains Ben Decker '18 (44th in 2016), Liam Simpson '18 (105th), and Griffin Colaizzi '18 (122nd), as well as Austin Anderson '19 (81st) and Zeke Cohen '19 (170th). While these Ephs will provide a solid foundation for this year's varsity squad, Williams' strength this year, as Farwell explained, is its depth.
Ryan Cox '20 was 8th man last year, and should contend for a varsity spot this year. In addition, Mitchell Morris '19, Peter Kirgis '20, Tristan Colaizzi '20, Zach Dulabon '18, and Will McGovern '20 are all coming off fantastic track seasons and will look to continue the momentum this fall. When speaking about his strong group of upperclassmen, Farwell explained that "the Eph upperclass group has a neat mix of veteran juniors and seniors with up-and-coming sophomores who have really focused on summer training and stepping up this fall. This includes speed-gifted middle distance men who are extending their distance by 5 to 10 fold for the 8k cross country contests."
With over 50 men on the roster this fall, including a dozen first-years, there may be quite a few surprises this season. Farwell confirmed that this group of first-years is quite talented, saying that "besides proven upperclassmen, we have an excellent group of First Years who bonded even during their final year of high school, and showed their motivation over the summer with great training. 4 or 5 of those could be part of the pack of potential scorers for us."
The Ephs' first home meet will be the Purple Valley Classic on September 23 on the Mt. Greylock High School course. This meet attracts strong competition from five regions this year including from Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and for the first time Canada (McGill University).
Little Threes will be contested at home this year, where the Ephs will face a stiff challenge from Amherst, who are ranked 2nd in New England. They will surely also put up a contest later in the season at the NESCAC Championship.
Farwell is excited about his team competing at home several times this season, saying, "our home course will be somewhat revised this year, due to construction at the High School. Little Three is a special meet, and exciting to host. That gives us a little advantage of knowing the trails well, but we always have plenty of motivation. As they say, 'there's no place like home!'"
After being edged out by MIT at the 2016 NCAA New England Regional in a tiebreaker, the Ephs will be seeking the title and to qualify for the NCAA Championship for the 13th year in a row.