WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS. -- Peter Farwell's Williams College men's cross country team has been impressing and improving all season long and recently the Ephs posted convincing wins at the NESCAC and NCAA New England Championship races and this Saturday they get to compete the NCAA DIII championship.
Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky will host the NCAA title race Saturday morning at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park with the men's race scheduled to begin at 10:45 AM.
There will be live streaming coverage of both the men's and women's (11:45 AM) races, but note that there will be a charge to watch the stream being provided by FloTrack. Fans are encouraged to sign up well ahead of race day to be sure they will get to watch the races on Saturday.
This edition of the Williams men's cross country team did something that no other Eph team has achieved until this season. During the regular season the Ephs tied North Central College (Ill.) for first place in the USTFCCCA national coaches poll, a spot that the North Central Cardinals had occupied for 26 consecutive weeks.
Williams was second at the 2015 NCAA Championship race and the Ephs have recorded 10 top five finishes at the NCAA Championship and won the title in both 1994 and 1995. Their best finish since was second place in 2015.
North Central will enter the 2019 NCAA Championship race having won the last three NCAA titles.
"Our team had one of the tightest, if not THE tightest packs ever at the NCAA New England Regional both in terms of placing and time spread," Farwell said. "This team has thrived on pack running (although often a gap behind Aidan Ryan who likes to get out front as he is in super shape this season)."
Farwell's top five finishers last Saturday at the NCAA New England Regional were only separated by 13.1 seconds and they all placed in the top eight. Extending out to the seven Eph runners who ran at Bowdoin the spread from first finisher to seventh finisher was 24.3 seconds.
The Eph team is expected to battle North central College for top honors Saturday and junior Aidan Ryan who has won all six of his races this year figures to be a strong contender for the individual title. Ryan was recently named the USTFCCCA New England Region Men's Cross Country Athlete of the Year.
"We are keeping to our same schedule this week, those with less volume, and not really 'training' so much as maintaining conditioning, good health, and 'priming the pump' for peak performance," added Farwell.
Looking ahead to Saturday Farwell commented, "The weather should be in the 40's, which is optimal. The footing may be a bit soft and spongy, depending how much rain comes before or during the race. The course is mostly grass, runs fast on a dry good-weather day, though it does have a few sections of rolling hills. The course is wide for the most part, with room to pass."
The Ephs' seven runners competing in Louisville will be the same seven that captured the NCAA New England Regional race last Saturday: seniors Tristan Colaizzi, Ryan Cox, Nick Gannon, Kenneth Marshall, William McGovern will be joined by junior Aidan Ryan, and sophomore Elias Lindgren.
"These men have mastered the art of getting into position, running economically, and 'reading their bodies' to know how much and when to push, to run fast, but relaxed, and how to kick," sated Farwell. "They will be 'in the hunt', as that is their Quest."
Indicative of the special season the Ephs are having is the late breaking news on Tuesday afternoon that Williams has supplanted North Central College in the national poll, climbing to number one and North Central is now ranked second, heading into the NCAA Championship Race on Saturday.
A caravan of Eph runners representing both the men's and women's Eph cross country teams is planning to follow their teammates to Louisville to provide in person support. Of course T Bear will be in attendance.