Williamstown, MA—The Williams men's cross country team finished a hard-fought 2nd place today at the Little Three Championship to Amherst, snapping a 29-year win streak.
Williams came into the meet ranked 15th nationally and 3rd regionally, whereas Amherst was the favorite this year, ranked 7th nationally and 1st regionally. Williams had lost to Amherst twice this season at the Purple Valley Classic and Paul Short Invitational, but hoped to close the gap in a smaller, more personal meet.
The 8-kilometer race went out slowly for the first mile, with Amherst's and Williams' best each feeling each other out. After the first mile, the pace slowly increased, and after the big hill at the end of the second mile, Amherst's top pack surged, trying to break away from the field. Eph co-captain Liam Simpson '18 and Austin Anderson '19 took a gamble and followed the surge, while teammates Peter Kirgis '20 and Mitchell Morris '19 ran more conservatively, hoping to pick off runners. While the gamble did not pay off for Anderson, Simpson hung tough, finishing 3rd in a time of 26:04 (Amherst's Cosmo Brossy won the race in 25:59).
Behind Simpson, Morris and Kirgis each closed extremely hard, finishing in 6th and 8th overall in times of 26:41 and 26:46. First-year Aidan Ryan '21, Nick Gannon '20, and Ryan Cox '20 each had strong finishes for 9th, 10th, and 11th overall in times of 26:47, 26:48, and 26:52. Co-captain Ben Decker '18 rounded out Williams' top 7 for 12th place in 27:03, running well despite not being 100%. Although not a scoring member for the team, Anderson finished 13th in 27:04, ahead of Amherst's 5th man. Despite Williams' impressive depth, Amherst's top-heavy performance proved decisive in a meet of this size, prevailing over Williams with a score of 25 to Williams' 36. Wesleyan finished 3rd, with 76 points.
Said Eph head coach Pete Farwell, "We knew today was going to be a real battle, and Amherst was favored. We thought we had the guys to win if we ran perfect—and I think we ran really well today—but a few things conspired against us and not everyone was in top shape this day. Amherst ran great, and we ran very well and just missed. Streaks are bound to be broken. We've had some phenomenal good fortune and races to keep the streak, and this year, their team was just really really good. We have quite a Little Three rivalry now, and the sportsmanship was great today."
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Farwell continued: "We're definitely looking forward to NESCACs two weeks from now, and we are definitely looking forward to November. I'm happy with today, but I think we can perform very well in the postseason."
The Ephs will next compete again next Saturday at the Plansky Invitational, hosted by Williams College. This meet also serves as a Williams alumni meet.