Williamstown, MA—The men's track and field team will compete Saturday at the 2018 Division III New England Championship, hosted by Middlebury College. The Ephs will be looking to improve up on their 2nd place showing in 2017 and 2016. Currently ranked 3rd in the New England region, the Ephs will face tough competition from 1st-ranked MIT, 2nd-ranked Tufts, and 4th-ranked WPI.
Although competition will be fierce, the Ephs are going into this meet better-prepared across the board than in either of the previous two years. Whereas last year, field performances and long distance events were almost entirely what carried Williams to their 2nd place showing, this year, Williams is strong in both track and field. A total of 32 Ephs qualified for the meet this year.
In the 60-meter dash, junior standout Jeremy Thaller '19 will be looking to score significant points for the Ephs. Last year, Thaller finished 5th in 7.03. This year, with training more geared toward performance at this meet, Thaller will be looking to finish even higher.
Thaller will return later in the day for the 200-meter dash. There, he will be joined by co-captain Tobias Muellers' 18. Muellers, currently ranked 6th in the nation for the heptathlon, is foregoing a chance to defend his title as heptathlon champion, instead opting to compete in the 200, the 400, long jump, and 4x400. He is a threat to score or even win in almost any of the aforementioned events.
Also foregoing the heptathlon will be first-year Dan Renwick '21. Renwick, currently ranked 10th in the heptathlon, will be competing in the 60-meter hurdles, long jump, high jump, and 4x400. Renwick recently tied the school record for the high jump at 2.08 meters and is ranked 2nd in New England in the event. He, too, will be a threat to score in all of the events in which he is competing.
Co-captain Tommy Riley '18, meanwhile, will be contesting the heptathlon, alone of his training partners. In the absence of Muellers and Renwick, Riley is ranked 4th in the heptathlon, although his qualifying mark came with a very slow final 1000 meter run. In a championship heptathlon, Riley is capable of doing far better—perhaps even winning.
In the pole vault, Pierceson Brown '18 seed mark places him 8th—along with 6 other men. If Brown performs well, however, he should be capable of scoring some points for the Ephs.
Although a weak point at last year's championship, the Ephs will be looking to score significant points across the mid-distance events. In the 800, Kevin LaFleche '20 is seeded 6th. With his trademark ferocious finishing kick, LaFleche will be a threat to score highly if his competitors let the pace lag. In the 1000, Peter Kirgis '20 is seeded 4th. As one of the Ephs' most dependable mid-distance runners, Kirgis has been knocking on the door of a breakout performance all season. In the mile, meanwhile, Lucas Estrada '20 and Tristan Colaizzi '20 are also scoring threats. After missing some time in previous seasons due to sickness and injury, Estrada has had a fantastic resurgence this season, and is well-positioned to perform highly in the fast heat. Colaizzi, whose seed time places him in the slow heat, is no less of a scoring threat for being so.
Williams should also be strong in the distance events on Saturday. 5 athletes will be contesting the 3000. Of the 5, Liam Simpson '18 and Griffin Colaizzi '18 are most poised to score. Having been two of Williams' best distance runners for the last 3 years, if the two perform up to their capabilities, they should be able to score significant points for the Ephs. In the 5000, co-captain Ben Decker '18 and Ryan Cox '20 are each in good position to score points. Seeded 2nd and 5th respectively, both are excellent cross country runners, and will be well-suited to the constant shifts in rhythm that typify championship track races.
In the shot put, Magnus Herweyer '20 is ranked 4th. Although he comes into the meet with a slightly worse seasonal best than last year, when he finished 2nd, he is absolutely capable of performing above his seed. His personal best mark is nearly half a meter above the rest of his competition, so Herweyer is a threat to win.
Williams should contend in each of the 4x400, 4x800, and distance medley relay, the final events on the track. Ranked 6th in the 4x400, 3rd in the 4x800, and 6th in the DMR, Williams' strength is their depth. While other teams may need to double or triple their athletes by the time the relays come around, Williams will have mostly fresh teams capable of great performances. Last year, the Ephs finished 3rd in the 4x800 and 1st in the DMR. Replicating or even improving on such performances is not out of the question.
Head coach Ethan Barron was looking forward to the competition, saying, "I like this crew. We're underdogs. And there is one key element to attacking from that place. You need to be unapologetically fearless. I see that glimmer in how these guys look at these seeds. We live for the challenge."
While Williams may be the underdog at this meet compared to teams such as Tufts or MIT, they are sending a team that is absolutely capable of standing atop the podium at the end of the day Saturday.