WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The competitive season is just beginning and the members of the Williams men's cross country team already have months of preparation under their belts. The Ephs will once again look to be one of the top teams in the NESCAC and New England region. Pete Farwell is back for his 37th year as head coach and will be joined by assistant coaches Sarah Lagasse and Nick Lehman.
In 2014, the Ephs won their 27th consecutive Little Three Championship and their seventh NESCAC Championship in the past nine years. They also took the ECAC Championship crown for the ninth time in the past ten years. After placing fourth at the NCAA New England Regional Championship, Williams completed the season with a sixth place finish at the NCAA Championships. This year, the preseason poll from the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association has the Ephs ranked third in New England and ninth nationally.
This years' team will step up to fill the shoes of the graduated members of the class of 2015: Andrew Beaudoin, Aldis Inde, Daniel Siegel, and Cole Townsend. All of these athletes were both esteemed team leaders and integral members of Williams' strong postseason run in 2014. Siegel, Townsend, and Inde were Williams' third, fourth, and seventh scorers at the 2014 NCAA Championships. Also absent from the Ephs' lineup this season is standout Colin Cotton. Cotton has exhausted his eligibility in cross country, but will rejoin the team for indoor and outdoor track. Cotton was Williams' top performer in 2014 and capped off his season with a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships.
|Bijan Mazaheri '16|
Despite these losses from last year's team, a combination of strong upperclassmen and a deep group of underclassmen are prepared for a successful 2015 season.
Senior captain Bijan Mazaheri is the Ephs' top returner after placing third at the NESCAC and NCAA New England Regional Championships, and 15th at the NCAA Championships in 2014. Mazaheri's efforts earned him All-NESCAC, All-New England, and All-American honors. His runner-up finish in the 10,000 meters at the 2015 NCAA Track & Field Championships proves that Mazaheri can hang with the best distance runners in Division III.
"Bijan is a daring competitor who lays it all on the line," said coach Farwell.
Seniors Todd Ford and Matt Tarduno will join Mazaheri as captains this season. Ford battled injuries in 2014, but put together two strong postseason races. He finished third at the ECAC Championships and followed with a 99th place finish at the NCAA Championships. Tarduno also performed well in the Ephs' ECAC victory and has his eyes on a varsity spot in 2014.
"Todd has miler speed and is coming off of his best summer yet," Farwell commented. "Matt is a strong leader and a consistent competitor."
The Ephs also welcome back junior Peter Hale who missed all of last season due to injury. In 2013, Hale placed 20th at the NESCAC Championships and 45th at the NCAA New England Regional Championships. Last year, Hale went on to compete in track & field, and finished the 2015 school year ranked in the top 35 nationally in the 5,000 meters. Senior Kyle Kistinger (36th NESCAC, 52nd NE Regional) and junior Noah Williams (44th NESCAC, 5th ECAC) will also look to be mainstays in Williams' varsity seven this season.
|Todd Ford '16|
"Peter has real aerobic strength and speed," remarked coach Farwell. "Kyle is a fast 800-meter runner and has added a great summer base. He's poised for his best season yet."
"Noah trains at high volume and holds his pace with determination," Farwell added.
Sophomore Ben Decker returns after an outstanding first-year season. Decker placed 11th at the 2014 NESCAC Championships, earning NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors. He followed up that performance with a 32nd place finish at the New England Regional Championships and 124th place at the NCAA Championships.
"Ben is a natural distance runner," said coach Farwell. "He was our frosh phenom last season."
Junior Nigel Bates and sophomores Griffin Colaizzi and Liam Simpson will also be competing for varsity spots in 2015. Last year, these three student-athletes ran just outside of the top seven, and each competed well for the Ephs in the ECAC victory.
Coach Farwell especially noted Colaizzi's potential to make an impact. "Griffin was our second-best freshman last season. He had a breakthrough in the 5k last spring and has also ramped up his training."
Finally, Williams welcomes a strong class of first years looking to make an impact. This group includes Austin Anderson (Danville, KY), Zeke Cohen (Chevy Chase, MD), Jacob Kahrs (Huntington Station, NY), Lucas Estrada (Boxborough, MA), Walker Knauss (Granite Bay, CA), and Mitchell Morris (Cape Elizabeth, ME).
In team competition, the Ephs will face challenges from Little Three rival Amherst, NESCAC foes Tufts and Middlebury, and regional opponent MIT. Amherst and MIT are ranked first and second, respectively, in the USTFCCCA regional preseason poll (4th and 7th nationally).
Williams begins its season on September 12 at the McGill Invitational in Montreal, Quebec. Two years ago, the Ephs won this meet in a dramatic tiebreaker finish.
The first home meet of the season will be the Purple Valley Classic on September 26 at Mt. Greylock High School.