Westfield, MA—Following a great team performance at the Paul Short Run, men's cross country competed at Westfield State's James Earley Invitational. Those who raced at Lehigh trained through the weekend and were on hand to see their teammates race. Only a day after heavy rain blanketed Western Massachusetts, the 8-kilometer course at Westfield was dry and speedy.
"This meet is a good fit for this group," said head coach Pete Farwell. "They gain valuable racing experience by facing good competition on a very fast course."
The leaders took it out at a blistering pace through the pancake-flat first mile, but the Ephs held back and waited to make their moves until later in the race. Jesse Regnier, an alumnus of Westfield State, won the race in 25:42. Justin Zorn of Union finished second in 25:53, and was the first undergraduate to cross the line. Coming through in two main groups, Williams tallied 238 points to finish eighth. Union took home the team title with 100 points, followed by runner-up Saint Rose with 131 points and Westfield State with 140.
The top Williams finisher was Michael Byrns '18, whose 26:57 performance earned him 17th place. Byrns improved over his performance at this meet a year ago when he was the Ephs' fifth man. Second on the team was Alex Cowen '18, who finished 28th overall in a new personal best of 27:15. Hiroshi Kirby '17 was close behind, as he ran 27:22 for 34th place.
"Michael was fantastic today," remarked Coach Farwell. "He's made huge progress since the start of the season. Alex was a little more conservative at the start but gained about 40 places in a strong second half. Hiroshi got out well and ran a solid race as our third man."
The second pack of Williams finishers was led by Jacob Kahrs '19 and his 75th place, 28:12 performance. Liam Albrittain '19 placed 90th in 28:22, followed by Nick Nosce '16 in 93rd place (28:26) and Jacob Cytrynbaum '18 in 95th (28:28). Outside the top seven, the Ephs saw strong performances from Ross Hoch '19 (102nd, 28:35), David Azzara '19 (112th, 28:43), and Greg Ferland '16 (119th, 28:50).
"Our freshmen responded well to their first 8k," Farwell noted. "The large field of racers made it hard to form groups, but they responded by individually pacing themselves well. This meet was good preparation for when we take on Amherst and Wesleyan next week."
The entire Williams team will race October 17th for the annual Little Three Championship hosted by Amherst. This year's race looks to be one of the most competitive in recent memory: as of October 7th, Amherst and Williams were each ranked in the top ten in the nation by the USTFCCCA (fourth and seventh, respectively). Additionally, Wesleyan is ranked 21st nationally, their first appearance in the top 35 since 2006.