Men's Cross Country Will Compete Saturday in NCAA Championship Race in Winnecone, WI

Todd Ford '16
Todd Ford '16

< W A T C H > Men's Race Online at 1:00 p.m. EST

WILLLIAMSTOWN, MA – Pete Farwell's Williams College men's cross country won the NCAA New England Regional title last Saturday, edging arch rival Amherst by one point, 67-68, to claim an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship race this Saturday in Winnecone, Wisconsin.

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will serve as the host and the race will be contested at the Lake Breeze Golf Club.

The men's championship race will commence at 1:30 p.m. EST.

The Ephs are making their 24th overall appearance in the NCAA Championship race and 22nd since the fall of 1993 when NESCAC permitted teams to compete in NCAA post-season championship events. In 1975 and 1977 when the Ephs were scored as a team it was because they had qualified at least five runners individually.

Eph head coach Pete Farwell has guided his Ephs to the last 22 NCAA appearances now in his 37th year at the Eph helm.

"We feel confident that both groups [men and women] are peaking at the right time and are ready for another strong performance this Saturday at the National Championship" said Farwell. "We've had some great races the last couple of weeks, so if we continue that momentum and build upon it just a bit more, we will be in a good position to compete with the best teams from around the country."

In the final USTFCCCA National coaches poll the Ephs remain ranked second nationally behind Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Wisconsin-Eau Claire received six first place votes and the Ephs secured the remaining two first place votes.

In addition to the 32 teams selected for the championship each of the eight regions will be sending the top seven finishers in their region not competing on one of the 32 selected teams, making for a field of 280 runners.

Joining the Ephs in Wisconsin will be three other New England teams represented in both races: Middlebury, MIT, and Tufts.

A year ago in Mason, Ohio the Ephs finished 6th at the NCAA Championship race behind All-America efforts from Colin Cotton (2nd place) and senior Bijan Mazaheri (15th). Mazaheri returns this year for his final campaign and has been the Ephs' top finisher throughout the fall.

The Ephs will also have two additional runners who are NCAA Championship race-tested having competed in the 2014 NCAA Championship race in senior Todd Ford who came in 99th and sophomore Ben Decker who was 124th in his first NCAA title race.

Five of the Eph team members going to Wisconsin recently earned NCAA All-Region honors by placing in the top 35 the NCAA New England Regional: Bijan Mazaheri (2nd), junior Peter Hale (4th), Ben Decker (5th), Todd Ford (22nd) and sophomore Griffin Colaizzi who finished 34th.

The Ephs will enter the 2015 NCAA Championship ranked second nationally in the USTFCCCA national coaches and will try to catch and beat top-ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Wisconsin- Eau Claire received six first place votes in the coaches poll and the Ephs received the two remaining first place votes.

The Ephs' top seven runners entered in the NCAA title chase on Saturday will include, Bijan Mazaheri, Ben Decker, Peter Hale, Griffin Colaizzi, Todd Ford, junior Noah Williams, and senior Kyle Kistinger, while sophomore Liam Simpson, winner of the 2015 ECAC Division III race, will serve as the team's alternate.

Pete Farwell '73 has been the head coach of the Eph men's cross country team since 1979 and he has guided the purple and gold to two NCAA team titles and two of his Eph runners have won the NCAA race.

Jeremie Perry '96 took top honors in 1994 and became the Ephs' first individual NCAA champion. Eleven years later Neal Holtschulte '06 became the second Eph to win the NCAA race. To date Holtschulte is the lone Eph runner to earn All-America honors all four years.

Since 1993 the Eph men's team has finished in the top ten 15 times at the NCAA Championship race and has posted nine top five finishes. Farwell's 1994 and 1995 Eph teams brought home the NCAA title.

Since Farwell's first year as head coach in 1979, he has had 22 individual All-Americans who have accumulated 35 All-American honors.