Men's Cross Country Season Outlook

Every Eph race starts with "T. Bear" being tossed in the air
Every Eph race starts with "T. Bear" being tossed in the air

Celebrating its 100th year the Williams College men's cross country team hopes to make 2012 a season to remember.

Williams head coach Peter Farwell '73 is the second longest serving men's cross country head coach at Williams and is entering his 34th season.

As an undergrad Farwell was coached at Williams by the legendary Tony Plansky. Plansky coached the Eph cross country team from 1935 to 1978 (a span of 44 years).  Farwell returned to Williams in the fall of 1978 to serve as an assistant under Plansky for a year, before becoming the Ephs' head coach.

Prior to Plansky's service as Eph head coach, Charles "Doc" Seeley was in charge of the program from 1912 to 1934. Three head coaches in 100 years.

To date Farwell has guided the Eph men to 18 NCAA Championship appearances in 19 possible opportunities since NESCAC permitted post-season team competition in 1993. Overall the Ephs have appeared in 21 NCAA Championship races, having sent teams in 1975 and 1977 when there were no qualifying meets.

The E[hs are ranked 13th nationally in the USTFCCCA preseason poll.

To make it to the 2012 NCAA Championship the Ephs will need to replace five of their seven competitors at last year's NCAA race. The quartet of Jack Fitzhenry, Josephat Koima, Anthony Raduazo, and Mark Springel has graduated, plus the NESCAC Rookie of the Year Colin Cotton '15 who will be away from Williams this semester.

Senior captain Brandon Abasolo

"We had an incredible senior class last year, with Anthony and Mark giving great leadership, and all four of these being regional and national 'go-to' guys throughout their careers," remarks coach Farwell. "They competed fast and tough and were key to many of our victories. Their example, and training ethic, has left a legacy within the team to succeed. I'm sure our group returning this year will prove that they are ready to jump into the 'Big Show' no longer as understudies but as stars in their own right."  

Cotton will be missed this season, as he was the fourth freshman to cross the finish line at the 2011 NCAA's, coming in 73rd. Prior to that he placed 11th in NESCAC and 10th in the New England regional.   

Farwell's 2011 Eph harriers finished sixth at the NCAA Championships and were led by Chris Lee who finished 51st, just 10 seconds away from earning All-America honors. "Chris was basically a novice harrier last fall," relates Farwell. "He played soccer in high school, and ran little as a freshman here at Williams, battling a knee injury. With his very modest summer of training we never expected him to be in our top seven, much less to get faster and faster in the final four meets, emerging as our #1 racer at the NCAA's!"  Lee placed 10th at NESCAC's and 7th at the New England regional, earning First Team All-Region recognition.

The second returning NCAA veteran is senior Wade Davis. He captured 76th place at the NCAA's, after strong NESCAC (8th place) and New England regional (23rd place) finishes. Davis has made steady improvement throughout his career. "Wade's work ethic is second to none, and he has remarkable endurance and strength, plus an innate ability to push himself through long races, including the 10,000 meters in track," says Farwell. Davis will serve as tri-captain of this year's Eph team along with classmates Brandon Abasolo and Scott Rodilitz.

Senior captain Wade Davis

Abasolo placed 50th at the 2011 New England regional, while Rodilitz placed a high 5th place in the ECAC championships. These are two battle-tested veterans who will be counted on to help form the Ephs' top seven this fall. "Our 2012 captains lead by word and example, and have already in the off-season set the tone for a great team year, with many on the squad putting in super training on their own this summer," exudes Farwell. "They also know how to have their best racing when it counts, and will be vital factors in our team success this year." 

This fall the Ephs will be seeking a 25th consecutive Little Three title, following which, they will gear up to peak at season's end first for the NESCAC Championship, then the NCAA-New England Regional Qualifier and hopefully a return to the NCAA Championship race.

Last fall at the Little Three meet the above mentioned foursome finished in the top nine: Davis 4th, Abasolo 5th, Rodilitz 7th, and Lee 9th as Williams won with a low score of 19, The Ephs took nine of the top 11 places.   

Running at the 2011 NESCAC Championship race at Amherst College the Ephs placed six runners in the top 15 to claim their fifth conference crown in the last six years. The win boosted the total number of NESCAC titles won by the Ephs to a conference-best 13, of the 29 NESCAC titles to date.

Senior captain Scott Rodilitz

The Ephs' "second seven" runners defended their home course by winning a 7th consecutive ECAC Division III title. Behind now-graduated seniors Springel and Ford Smith in 3rd and 4th and Rodilitz in 5th place were Cole Townsend 14th, Henry Koster  in 18th, and Aldis Inde came in 22nd. Townsend and Inde were the first freshmen among the 300-runner field. "These three guys, plus Max LaBerge '15 (16th place 2010 ECAC) will be vying for positions in our top seven, and now have the racing experience and training background to join the front pack," comments Farwell. "All eight of these upperclassmen set PR's during the spring track season and are positioned for a super cross country season."

Two other seniors, Steve Mendoza and Peter Watson, plus a strong freshman class will add to team depth. "Of that Class of 2016 it is always hard to know which of these talented athletes might work his way up to the top group," says Farwell. "I expect five to make a contribution there or on the 'Second Seven' (ECAC squad): Todd Ford, Bijan Mazaheri, Kyle Kistinger, Nick Nosce, and Matt Tarduno.  They are a great bunch for the future of Williams Cross Country."

In 2011 the Eph top seven captured the NCAA-New England Qualifier with a narrow victory over Middlebury to advance to the NCAA Championship race. Also advancing to NCAA's were Bates, Bowdoin, and Tufts, and at the NCAA finals all five of these NESCAC squads placed among the top 15, making NESCAC the strongest conference in the nation for Division III. "It will be even more competitive this year," predicts Farwell. "Each of those teams has improved, and Amherst, Wesleyan and Connecticut College are contenders as well. When you add in MIT and Brandeis to the regional front-runners, it will be the most hotly-contested regional ever. It will take not only our perennial depth, but for break-out years by our entire pack to turn to reality the dream we have."

The Ephs will open their centennial season on September 8th with the Vassar Invitational, then two weeks later host their Purple Valley Classic invitational with several nationally ranked teams among the 20-team field representing four regions.