WILLIAMSTOWN, MA--With leaves falling in full force, the stage is set for a battle royale Saturday at Bates College as the Ephmen prepare for the 2017 NESCAC Cross Country Championships. The top contenders are all strong, and Saturday's 8k course will prove no cake walk for anyone involved. Williams is competing for its fifth consecutive NESCAC title.
In 2016, Williams scored 83 points, finishing 17 points ahead of runner-up Amherst. All four Ephs who finished in the top-20 last season will toe the line this weekend, including senior captain Ben Decker, who placed seventh last year, and was the top Eph at the Purple Valley Classic. This year, Williams will have a 15-man lineup. Senior captain Liam Simpson, who earned an All-NESCAC second team selection in 2016, has been the top runner for Williams twice this season, leading the Ephs to victory at the McGill Invitational with a fourth place finish, and placing third at the Little Three Championships. Captain Griffin Colaizzi '18, in a triumphant return from injury, will join his co-captains, running his first race of the 2017 season. Aidan Ryan '21, Chris Avila '21, Jake Lange '21, Will Young '21, Sam Gilman '21, Tristan Colaizzi '20, Ryan Cox '20, Nick Gannon '20, Peter Kirgis '20, Sam Wischnewsky '20, and Mitch Morris '19 all the have potential for great performances.
In the ranks of the competition, Amherst sophomore Clark Ricciardelli, and senior Mohammed Hussein will challenge the top Williams runners, seeking the first NESCAC title in the history of the program. Middlebury College, looking for its first title since 2010 will field a team led by senior Ascencion Aispuro and junior Miles Meijer. Host Bates, after finishing seventh for three consecutive years aims to move up in the results, fresh off a win at the Maine State Championship, where senior Zach Magin placed third.
Head Coach Pete Farwell named Amherst, Middlebury, Bates and Conn College as main factors in the meet, noting that there will be "Plenty of top individuals that Simpson and a few others will contend with. We hope to have the deepest team in the meet through our fifth and seventh man, and beyond. I always look forward to this meet because we have the honor of being in one of the top two Division III conferences in the country." Overall, Farwell has great expectations, describing the Williams lineup as "primed and ready." Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the NESCAC will shape up to be a thrilling contest over hilly, wooded terrain with many turns.