Westfield, MA--The Williams men's cross country squad clinched one of only two automatic qualifying spots today for the NCAA Championship meet available at the NCAA New England Regional, coming second to MIT with 110 points. The result was ultimately decided on a tie-breaking procedure in which the head-to-head results of each team's individual runners are compared. Amherst was third with 141 points. Additionally, the NESCAC was well represented the top 10, with Middlebury (153), Tufts (159), Colby (167), Bates (208) and Bowdoin (266) taking the fourth through eighth spots.
Senior Tim Nichols of Tufts won the individual championship in a blistering 23:54, a full 34 seconds ahead of the next finisher, MIT's grad-student Matt Deyo. Ben Decker '18 grabbed the sixth spot in 24:46, followed by Liam Simpson '18 in 12th (25:02). Captain Noah Williams '17 and Griffin Colaizzi '18 both ran 25:23 separated by just half a second for 28th and 29th place. Austin Anderson '19 (25:28) and Zeke Cohen '19 (25:35), and Ryan Cox '20 (25:37) all had solid performances and finished in the top 50.
Assistant coach Nick Lehman spoke quite highly of the Ephs' race strategy: "Overall I'm very pleased with how everyone ran. Ben ran a phenomenal race up front and the other guys did an excellent job being smart in the first two miles [of the usual 8k distance] and moving up well throughout the race."Cool conditions meant that the day would produce fast times. In the early stages of the race for NCAA qualification Nichols established a breakneck pace of 2:15 for the first 800m over Westfield State's hard-packed dirt course. At the halfway point, only Decker and Simpson had positioned themselves in the top 50. But over the next two miles the Ephs moved up effectively, passing several Amherst and MIT runners.
Once again the team demonstrated its depth and consistency with an average time of 25:12--a convincing result against a strong program such as MIT. Today's performances indicate that the Ephs are firing on all cylinders after a long season of conistent training. Next week will give them an opportunity to test themselves against first and second-ranked North Central College and SUNY Geneseo.