WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Only the top two finishing teams Saturday at the men's cross country NCAA New England Qualifier were assured of earning a berth in the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championship race in Terre Haute, IN.
Two automatic berths were up for grabs, but based on finishes in the New England race held at Westfield State and results across the country the number of New England teams was thought to be able to expand to four, possibly five.
The Ephs' fourth place finish at Westfield State on Saturday, where they edged Tufts (2012 NESCAC champion) by a point gave Pete Farwell's Eph harriers hope.
Hope turned to reality on Sunday afternoon when Farwell's team was awarded an at-large berth in the 32-team field. Tufts also landed a berth, giving NESCAC all five berths from the New England region. Bates, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Tufts and Williams will carry the NESCAC colors to Indiana.
Since 1993 when NESCAC first permitted its teams to participate in the NCAA Championship race Farwell's Ephs have qualified 19 out of 20 times. Interesting to note that back in 1975 and 1977 the Ephs were allowed to compete in the NCAA Championship race. This year marks the Ephs' 22nd appearance overall at the NCAA Championships.
"We knew we were a bit off our usual best racing by a couple of our standouts, and with our peaking plan and getting more rest they responded, as did the rest of the squad, with an excellent race at the Regionals," noted Eph head coach peter Farwell. "To come within 21 points of the win in what is one of the top regions, and representing also NESCAC, which is arguably the toughest conference, in the country. The team knows they can race even better next week, and is primed to do so."
"Both teams, women's and men's, have trained thoroughly this summer and fall, and are achieving their best form at just this peak time," added Farwell. "We should be in the running for very high placings within the 32-team fields."