Canton, N.Y. – On the final day of the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships, all three Eph men who competed gave it their all and showcased their ability to compete at the highest collegiate level. Aldis Inde '15, Bijan Mazaheri '16, and Colin Cotton '16 competed in the 5k and all three men walked away with All-American honors.
Inde and Cotton went out in the middle of the field and Mazaheri stayed towards the back at the start of the race. Cotton started rolling early and was the first Eph sitting in the top eight. At the mile mark, Inde started to move up the field, while Mazaheri continued to bide his time, staying in the rear of the main pack of runners.
By the halfway point, Inde was right on Cotton's shoulder and Mazaheri was still sitting in the back of the chase pack, which was slowly starting to drop runners. Inde and Cotton both made strong moves to move into the top six around the 8:20 mark, but the field continued to shuffle around and it was difficult to hold any positioning for very long. With 1600m to go, Mazaheri closed in on Cotton and all three Ephs were sitting in the top nine. Cotton started to fall back a little to 8th while Inde was holding strong at 5th. With 1200m to go, Inde moved into 3rd place while Cotton & Mazaheri moved into 7th and 8th, but the latter two also started to fall off the leaders at this point.
Inde moved into 2nd place with a little under 800m to go and by the 600m mark it was looking like a three-man race. With 300m to go Inde started to fall off the leader, but he held off a late charge from Andrew Padgett of Washington University in St. Louis to take 2nd place and set a new school record in 14:15.17. Cotton & Mazaheri would run away from the 9th place finisher to take 7th and 8th, respectively, in 14:29.32 and 14:31.55.
Assistant coach Colin Young, who focuses on the distance squad at Williams, had high praise for his trio. "For Aldis, what an amazing way to finish his career and a great year by setting a school record by 6 seconds," he beamed. "He was right in the race, challenging, and leading the others. To run your best race in the championships is the way you want to do it. Having three guys together in the race was really powerful and it was important for them to know they had the support of their teammates. Bijan and Colin working together was great to see–at different times it seemed like one of them was going to fall off, but they stayed with it together. Colin finished off a phenomenal comeback season where he ran 5 5ks in 6 weeks and progressed from 15:15 to 14:29. Bijan of course doubled back from the 10k, and focusing on the 5k was a great challenge both mentally and physically. He held on and managed to grab the last All-American spot. It was great to see Bijan and Colin back in the outdoor championships this year, and we know for next year we'll have two of the top guys returning."
"I think Williams impressed a lot of people this week," Young concluded. "It was the first time we've ever had three Williams guys in the 5k at NCAAs, and the first time we scored three guys in one event at such a big meet."
The Ephs as a team ended up finishing 12th overall with 19 points at the conclusion of the meet.
With the season wrapped up, the Ephs can look ahead to recovering and enjoying some time off this summer before beginning to prepare for cross country.