Poughkeepsie, NY—The Williams men's cross country team started their competitive season at the Ron Stonitsch Invitational, hosted by Vassar College, returning to this meet after a four-year hiatus.
Williams faced competition from several area colleges, including nationally ranked RPI (24th) and NYU (29th). This six-kilometer race was shorter than the usual distance at which the Ephs compete, but when coupled with unusually hot and humid weather, it provided a good test of the athletes' early season fitness.
Williams performed well, scoring 34 points, topping second place RPI, with 57 points, and NYU, with 61, to win the meet. Host college Vassar followed NYU with 128 points.
The Ephs ran controlled in defined packs early on. Toward the front, a solid pack of four Williams runners set the pace, including captain Peter Hale '17, Ben Decker '18, Griffin Colaizzi '18, and David Folsom '17. After a conservative first half of the race, Williams made a strong surge up the largest hill on the course and moved through the field, with Hale and Decker battling for the lead.
Ultimately, Jorge Maldonado, from NYU, pulled away over the last 600 meters to win in 19:08. Decker followed with a strong close in 19:19.8 for 2nd, joined shortly thereafter by Hale in 3rd in 19:23.6. Colaizzi was next for the Ephs, finishing in 19:32.6 (6th). Austin Anderson '19 and Folsom rounded out the top 5, each finishing with big kicks in 19:38.4 and 19:41.2, for 9th and 11th place respectively. Captain Noah Williams '17 and Mitch Morris '19, running his debut cross country race for Williams, rounded out the top 7 by finishing in 19:50.4 (17th) and 20:01.6 (24th).
Head coach Pete Farwell was impressed with his team's performance, especially with their style of pack racing and strong finishes. "Our top guys are in great shape and fared well as a pack," Farwell said. "But our next runners all did very well running in packs and moved up quite a bit. As a whole, this meet shows we're in great shape from our summer training."
Several freshmen had strong performances in their debut collegiate races. Peter Kirgis '20 finished in 20:05 (28th), and was joined by Ryan Cox '20 in 20:08.9 (32nd) and Kevin LaFleche '20 in 20:09.4 (33rd) in Williams' top 14. "We have a big group of freshmen, and their addition has been great," said Farwell. "They all performed well in their first collegiate meets."
The Ephs spent the rest of the afternoon at the Storm King sculpture park in Mountainville, New York. They will return to competition September 24th, when they host the Purple Valley Classic.