Waterford, CT—On Saturday, the Williams men's cross country team competed at the NCAA Division III New England Regional Championships. Connecticut College hosted the meet at Harkness Memorial State Park, overlooking Long Island Sound.
In a field of nearly 60 teams, the Ephs edged out the narrowest of victories over rival Amherst 67-68. Tufts took third with 80 points, Wesleyan was fourth with 114 points, and MIT finished fifth with 128 points. Williams and Amherst both qualified automatically for the NCAA Championships and the remaining team and individual NCAA qualifiers will be announced on Sunday.
The runners battled strong winds nearly everywhere on the course. The front pack was especially bunched up since no athlete wanted to take the lead and face the wind alone. A corps of Tufts and Amherst runners paced the field early on, but the Ephs' Bijan Mazaheri '16, Peter Hale '17, and Ben Decker '18 were right on their heels. When it came down to the kick, Williams was situated well with three finishers of the top five.
Mohamed Hussein of Amherst won the men's 8k race in 24:39, with Mazaheri a close second in 24:42. Luke O'Connor of Tufts placed third in 24:43, then Hale and Decker rounded out the top five in 24:46 and 24:51, respectively.
"We had an awesome pack of three cruising together up in the front group," said head coach Pete Farwell. "It was a great breakthrough for Peter Hale to run with Bijan and Ben and place fourth."
After a brief gap, Todd Ford '16 came through in 25:24 to take 22nd place. The Ephs' fifth man was Griffin Colaizzi '18, who finished 34th in 25:38. Each of Williams' five scorers earned All-Region honors by placing in the top 35.
"Todd got out faster than usual, preparing for the quicker pace of next week's race," Farwell noted.
"Liam backed up the team perfectly," Coach Farwell commented. "He came back just a week after his fast race at ECACs to kick it in for a top-50 finish."
Next Saturday, November 21, the Ephs will end their season at the NCAA Championships hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
"We're excited to be making the trip to Wisconsin this week to mix it up with the best in the country," said Farwell. "The guys have been training for this since May and will be at their best."