Amherst, MA – A year ago, the Williams men's track and field team suffered a heartbreaking defeat to Tufts University at the NESCAC Championship. After a grueling meet full of ups and downs, the final score was 169.33 to 164 and the Ephs watched as the Jumbos took a victory lap around Williams College track. It was on that day that the a new fire lit under the Ephs, and from that day on they have trained with the goal of recapturing the NESCAC title and bringing it back to Williams.
Today, the Ephs achieved that goal and edged out Tufts for the win in a final score of 207 to 182. Middlebury was 3rd with 122 points. This was the Ephs' first NESCAC title since 2011, but it was the fourth in a row for new head coach Ethan Barron who had guided Tufts to the last three titles. Williams leads NESCAC overall in men's track and field titles won with 22.
From the start of the first event, the Ephs went out with a fiery passion that quickly infected the entire facility. Captain Nolan Raimo shook off his first three long jumps and launched himself 6.92m, a huge personal best. Christian Holway jumped 6.92m on his subsequent turn, matching his captain's new personal best. Tobias Muellers also set a personal best today (6.81m), and together the trio took 2nd-4th in the opening event of the meet. Raimo roared as he approached his teammates after, signaling that the Ephs were ready to go all in today.
Liam Pembroke and Lloyd Campbell got going early in the discus while the 10000m kicked off. Pembroke secured 5th overall and Campbell nearly matched his seed mark while Bijan Mazaheri won the 10k in 30:55.72 after running away from the field in a 4:45 last mile. Ben Decker and Austin Anderson also ran in the 10k. Decker ran with a tight pack and kicked hard to finish 7th in 31:34.08. Anderson went out in the back and moved up well to finish in 32:53.61.
The 100m and 110m hurdles prelims went promisingly. Katakyie Ofori-Atta and Connor Harris advanced to the 100m final in 10.81 and 11.26 seconds, respectively. Jeremy Thaller also ran 11.26 seconds but missed the final qualifying spot by 1/1000th of a second. Nolan Raimo and Conor Dunham advanced to the 110m hurdles final by both running 15.31 seconds.
Pierceson Brown put in a valiant effort in the pole vault. He finished 2nd overall (4.55m) after just missing the bar at his personal best height of 4.70m.
The 4x100m relay team of Jeremy Thaller, Kat Ofori-Atta, Manny Daring, and Kevin Persons tightened up a little but managed to hold on for 3rd overall. At this point, Tufts was storming back from the Ephs' quick start to take a small lead.
Todd Ford put up a good fight in the 1500m. He and Kyle Kistinger went out towards the middle of the race until Ford surged to the front at the 3rd lap. Ford continued to lead while Kistinger moved up through the 3rd lap, but the fast field closed on Ford and moved him in 5th overall in 3:55.70. Kistinger just missed out on scoring in 9th place with a time of 3:57.94. David Folsom and Lucas Estrada looked impressive in their own heat, going 1-2 in personal best times of 3:58.54 and 3:59.26.
Conor Dunham flew to a huge personal best in the 110m hurdles final. He finished 3rd overall in 15.03 seconds and Nolan Raimo followed in 4th in 15.21 seconds.
Raimo came back to compete in his 3rd event, the high jump, with a few other teammates. They were led by Ian Kagame, who set a personal best of 1.93m to take 2nd overall. James Dunivan was next up, finishing 4th with a 1.88m jump. Tom Riley rounded out the scorers in 8th with a 1.78m jump, and Raimo finished 11th with a 1.73m jump. Meanwhile, Christian Holway brought home his own 4th place finish in the triple jump. He set a personal best of 14.06m.
James Heinl showcased his best javelin throwing today, finishing 3rd with a personal best 57.22m throw. Ian Mook also threw the javelin and finished with a 44.81m throw. Heinl doubled back to compete in the hammer throw and take 4th with a huge personal best throw of 48.48m. Chris Lyons and Olivier Joseph also threw the hammer today, finishing with throws of 42.13m and 40.08m.
Manny Daring came up huge today, edging out two Tufts competitors who beat his seed time. He set a personal best in a fast 400m of 48.88 seconds. Tobias Muellers came up big today too and scored in 7th place, running to a personal best of 49.42 seconds. Keith Owiti also set a personal best (49.89 seconds), and Elliot Fong rounded out the 400m efforts in 50.60 seconds.
Kat Ofori-Atta and Connor Harris returned for the 100m final. Although Ofori-Atta had been seeded first, a competitor beat his seed time by quite a bit in the prelim. Kat pushed very, very hard while his teammates screamed and cheered, and he achieved victory by 0.02 seconds. His final time was 10.82 seconds. Harris snagged 7th place and finished in 11.29 seconds.
Despite all of the personal bests of the day so far, the Ephs still trailed Tufts. Keeping this in mind, Alex Cowen ran a breakthrough 800m race and set a phenomenal personal best of 1:52.28 to take 6th. Steve Yannacone fought for positioning towards the end and finished 3rd in time of 1:51.93. The team was very excited about Cowen's time, nearly a 3 second personal best, but they had also conceded 18 points to the 1-2 punch of Tufts runners in the event. Tufts held its lead and the following events didn't look too promising for the Ephs.
Behind the shot putters and the 400m hurdlers, the Ephs started to turn the momentum in their direction. Chris Lyons and Lloyd Campbell held another friendly competition. The two battled it out till the final throw, pumping themselves up with jumps and flexes while cheering each other on at every attempt. On his final throw, Lloyd Campbell threw a huge personal best and jumped into 2nd place behind a 14.67m throw. Lyons continued to feed off the crowd and his teammates to finish 5th with a 14.26m throw. Liam Pembroke kept his signature shout going through each throw and also set a big personal best (13.98m) to steal a point in 8th place. Meanwhile, Nolan Raimo and Conor Dunham rocketed to 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the 400m hurdles. Both men set personal bests, with Raimo finishing in 53.56 seconds and Dunham finishing in 53.94 seconds. Ian Mook was an equally important scorer in the event–he secured a huge 6th place finish while running in a slower heat. He set a personal best time of 56.16 seconds and stole a crucial 2 points at a time when it seemed Tufts could pull away.
The Ephs carried off the momentum from these two events in the 200m. Kat Ofori-Atta returned to the track to just barely defeat a competitor from Trinity for his NESCAC title of the day. He won by 0.01 seconds in a time of 21.86 seconds, a personal best. Manny Daring also scored a point, coming through the line in 22.48 seconds to take 8th overall.
Bijan Mazaheri came back after running the 10000m to complete the difficult 10k/5k double. He went out with the aggressive pace and was joined by fellow Eph Colin Cotton. The duo dropped every runner in the lead pack one by one towards the end until the two were battling it out on the final lap. Ultimately, Mazaheri took home his 2nd NESCAC title of the day in winning the 5k in 14:41.45. Cotton finished 2nd in 14:45.59, and together the duo scored 18 points for the Ephs. Sophomores Liam Simpson and Griffin Colaizzi worked their way up through the field over the full length of the race and also got into scoring position, finishing 7th (15:04.64) and 8th (15:06.70). The Ephs got a total of 21 points from the event and were in a good position going into the final relays.
With every Eph standing on the sidelines watching, the 4x400m team willed itself to a season best 3:18.63 and edged out the Tufts relay team (3:19.34). The 4x800m brought home a 2nd place finish in 7:42.17 and capped off the Ephs win, a year's worth of work finally complete.
Eph head coach Ethan Barron's squad will take the night off before turning its attention to competing at Division III New Englands next week. New England powerhouse MIT will join Tufts in battling the Ephs for victory at the meet.