BRUNSWICK, ME – On Saturday morning, the Williams men's cross country team took the course in the NESCAC Championships for their bid to defend the conference title. The 8,000-meter race was held on Bowdoin College's pancake-flat course, which – combined with overcast, calm conditions – yielded very fast overall times on the day. In general, courses like Bowdoin's tend to favor those runners who excel on the track.
Williams junior Chris Lee, who has emerged as the team's number one runner, was up with the leaders for most of the race. At about the 4-mile mark, Lee surged and built a ten-meter gap on the rest of the field. He would fade a bit in the latter stages of the race, though, ending up seventh overall in 24:36. The race was won by Bowdoin junior Coby Horowitz, who edged past Tufts senior Matt Rand on the final straightaway. Their times were 24:26.78 and 24:27.29.
Senior captains Scott Rodilitz, Wade Davis, and Brandon Abasolo all had very solid performances. Rodilitz finished 17th overall, while Davis and Abasolo came in consecutively in 23rd and 24th. The times for the trio were 25:04, 25:16, and 25:18. Junior Max Laberge came in just two seconds and as many places after Abasolo to round out Williams' top-five. Aldis Inde '15 and Bijan Mazaheri '16 were the sixth and seventh finishers for Williams, placing 32nd (25:25) and 42nd (25:43), respectively. As the first freshman finisher in the race, Mazaheri earned NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors. Todd Ford '16, the eighth Eph finisher (25:56), was the second freshman overall to cross the line.
Despite solid performances across the board, Williams ended up a somewhat disappointing fifth in the overall team scoring with 97 points. Tufts led the way with 66, besting a tight field of Middlebury (69), Bowdoin (88), and Bates (89). There was a clear drop-off after Williams, as sixth place was Wesleyan with 164. Interestingly, when Williams' fifth finisher (Laberge) crossed the line, Bowdoin and Bates had each only registered three finishers. However, both teams were stronger up front than the Ephs, which explains how Williams ended up just back in fifth.
The Ephs' top seven runners will now have a two-week break before they toe the line for the New England Regional Championships. The race on November 10th will take place at Westfield State, where Williams raced earlier this season for Open New Englands. The top two teams at Regionals will automatically advance to the National Championships, with third, fourth, and fifth having a shot at an at-large bid. All NESCAC teams but Hamilton will compete at Regionals, with other New England teams including MIT thrown into the mix.
Williams' second seven runners will race next week at the ECAC Championships, held on the home course at Mt. Greylock High school. The men have won seven straight ECAC titles coming into this year.