WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Williams cross country squared off against twenty-three visiting teams on Saturday in the annual Purple Valley Classic. This competitive field featured seven teams ranked in the latest USTFCCCA national poll: Amherst (third), MIT, (sixth), Williams (eighth), Pomona-Pitzer (13th), SUNY Geneseo (16th), Tufts (21st), and Middlebury (26th).
Pomona-Pitzer and the University of Texas-Tyler each competed in the Purple Valley for the first time. Williams head coach Pete Farwell hopes that these teams have set a precedent for more teams from outside New England to come to this meet in future years.
Mother nature delivered yet another beautiful day for running. With sunny skies, temperatures in the upper sixties, and scenic views of the surrounding trees and mountains, visitors to the Purple Valley saw the epitome of fall in New England.
The day included both open 5-kilometer and varsity 8-kilometer races for the men. In the 8k, Amherst beat Williams by the narrow margin of 42 to 45, and SUNY Geneseo scored 55 points to finish in third place. Each of these teams placed three runners in the top ten and five in the top twenty. MIT (98 points) and Pomona-Pitzer (115 points) placed fourth and fifth, respectively.
Mohamed Hussein led Amherst by winning the race in 25:16. Bijan Mazaheri '16 of Williams was second in 25:17 and John Fowler of Pomona-Pitzer took third in 25:39. Isaac Garcia-Cassani of SUNY Geneseo (25:49) finished fourth and Amherst's Dan Crowley (25:50) placed fifth.
Mazaheri showed no signs of early season rust as he led the Ephs to a well-earned second place finish. "He dueled it out with two leaders, Hussein of Amherst and Fowler of Pomona," Coach Farwell explained. "Bijan dug in to hold off Hussein until the final meters, taking a splendid second in a rapid time for the course."
Noah Williams '17 and Ben Decker '18 took places seven and nine overall in a photo finish. These two Ephs, Amherst's Jeff Seelaus (eighth place), and Geneseo's Alex Kramer (tenth place) were only separated by tenths of seconds as they all crossed the line in 26:07.
Griffin Colaizzi '18 and Kyle Kistinger '16 finished back-to-back in 13th and 14th place, respectively. Colaizzi ran 26:17 and Kistinger 26:18 to round out Williams' scoring pack. Peter Hale '17 placed 23rd in 26:25 and Liam Simpson '18 ran 27:04 to come in 50th place. "Griffin and Kyle made great gains in the final mile," Farwell commented, "and Liam had a great kick as our seventh man."
"Our varsity stuck close together in good position through the first half of the 8k," Farwell said. "The tight-knit group of our second through sixth runners moved up in the fast field behind team leader Bijan Mazaheri."
In the open 5k race, St. Rose edged out Williams by a score of 41 to 43. Tufts took third with 51 points, while Coast Guard (118 points) and Springfield rounded out the top five. Eli Hoenig, running unattached as a member of Williams' nordic ski team, won the race in 16:33. Benjamin Kapuscinski of St. Rose was second in 16:34 and the Ephs' Zeke Cohen '19 was third in 16:38. St. Rose's Rastafari Morgan took fourth in 16:42 and Jack Pihno of Springfield finished fifth in 16:47.
Behind Cohen, Walker Knauss '19 finished seventh overall in 16:49, followed by Jacob Kahrs '19 in 12th place (17:17). Michael Byrns '18 took 15th in 17:23 and Jacob Cytrynbaum '18 was 18th in 17:33. David Azzara '19 (20th place, 17:39) and Ross Hoch '19 (28th, 17:52) also placed in the top seven for Williams.
"Zeke ran a bold race, putting himself in the top pack," noted Coach Farwell. "He ran a fine time on a challenging course. Walker also looked strong throughout as he moved up in the field."
On Friday, October 2, the top fifteen Ephs will travel to Bethlehem, PA to compete in the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University. Williams will test its mettle against top teams from all three NCAA divisions. In 2014, the Ephs took 17th place to finish as the top DIII team for the second year in a row.
Those who do not compete at Paul Short will run the Westfield Invitational on October 10. Then, the full team will come together for the last time in 2015 at the annual Little Three Championships on October 17 at Amherst.