Williamstown, MA—Tomorrow the Williams men's cross country team will travel to Waterford, CT for the NCAA DIII New England Regional Championships. In one of the largest meets of the season, the Ephs will compete against nearly 60 teams from around New England. Connecticut College is hosting the race at scenic Harkness Memorial State Park, overlooking the ocean. The men's 8-kilometer race begins at 12:30pm, following the women's 6k at 11:00am. Awards for both races will be held at 2:00pm.
Harkness Park is traditionally a fast course, and Saturday's forecast of clear skies and a high of 48 degrees should allow the harriers to perform at their peak. However, high winds could slow them down on the wide-open sections.
The New England Regional is just one of eight regional championship races taking place on Saturday. All across the country, teams will be competing to qualify for the NCAA Championships on November 21 at Lake Breeze Golf Club in Winneconne, WI. The top two teams in each regional meet with automatically qualify. Then, a selection committee fills out the NCAA field with 16 at-large berths. Finally, the top seven finishers in each region not on national qualifying teams are chosen to compete as unattached individuals in the NCAA Championships.
Williams enters this weekend as the top-ranked team in the region according to the current poll from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The Ephs are led by captain Bijan Mazaheri '16 and have a deep squad that has been their strength this season. Among the top performers in this group are Ben Decker '18, Peter Hale '17, and Griffin Colaizzi '18, who all placed in the top ten at the NESCAC Championships.
The second-ranked team in the region is Amherst. All season long, the Jeffs and the Ephs have battled to close finishes. At the Purple Valley Classic, Amherst defeated Williams 42-45. Since then, the Ephs have countered with close victories over the Jeffs at the Little Three and NESCAC Championships. Amherst is led by the duo of Mohamed Hussein and Dan Crowley, and like Williams have the depth to perform well in big meets.
Other teams to watch are regional No. 3 MIT, No. 4 Tufts, and No. 5 Middlebury. The Engineers won the NEWMAC championship behind a victory from Colin Godwin. Matt Deyo is regaining his form and could be a top performer as well. Tufts is coming off a third place finish at the NESCAC Championships with top-six finishes from Tim Nichols and Luke O'Connor. Middlebury took fifth at NESCACs and are led by Sebastian Matt and Ascencion Aispuro.
Williams head coach Pete Farwell has prepared his runners all season to perform well at the Regional Championships. "We're going to run the same way we've been running," Farwell said. "We'll face tough competition from Amherst and MIT, but our guys are healthy and ready to go."
Other information about the Regional Championship, including results following the race, is available on Conn College's meet website.