WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS. – Coming off of a 2019 Little Three, NESCAC, and NCAA New England Regional championship season and ending the season with a third place finish at the NCAA Championship race Eph head coach Peter Farwell will have 30 runners on campus this fall. Farwell noted," We have six men not returning to campus this fall. Two seniors and two juniors are taking leave, and one junior and one sophomore enrolling remotely"
"I'm not entirely sure about the people taking a full year off; they may return in the spring depending on how things are going. The two senior men's plans for next fall are still up in the air, but they do plan to finish their degree at Williams and compete if possible."
Looking ahead to a fall season that will be without actual competitions Farwell and his staff will divide his team into three groups for training. Farwell said, "We're planning approximately 10 people in a group and then we'll assign each group to a coach. We'll each probably have two groups, and the groups will meet with their coach three times per week. Most likely the days when they don't meet with us will be easy run days, and we'll supervise a couple of workouts each week. The workouts will definitely be cross country- oriented, on hills and grass. There are some thoughts about possibly entering some virtual competitions with other NESCAC schools so we'd hope to eventually be able to do some time trial and more focused efforts."
Farwell pointed out, "Students in the Class of 2024 had mostly reached decisions by the time campus shut down in the middle of March, but there were a couple of regular decision admitted students who had wanted to visit and didn't get a chance. I'm not sure the pandemic affected us much for that class. The loss of competitive opportunities and campus visits in 2020 will mostly impact students looking to join the Class of 2025. "
Given the current pandemic situation adjustments were needed to recruit for the Class of 2025. "We've done more virtual events, and with no season last spring we were able to spend more time focused on developing a deeper pool of prospective students," said Farwell. "Of course, we've had to rely more on sophomore year track times and junior year XC for those students since they didn't get a spring track season. We're also very aware of the disruptions and uncertainty that the Class of 2025 is facing in their last year of high school, so one big emphasis has been to reassure those students that they can still wind up in good places and to serve as resources for them while they make decisions under very different circumstances from previous classes."
Senior Sam Gilman commented, "It's great to be back on campus, even with all of the new restrictions and changes. It's great to just be able to grab an outdoor meal with some friends I haven't seen in a while or to run around the beautiful Williamstown roads and trails again. Obviously we all wish we had a competitive season too, but I think as a group we're making the best of it. I hope it stays that way!"
First year Luke Tichi had several observations regarding his first semester on campus. "It's exciting! While I technically visited once in the freezing winter, everything about campus has been new to me. Experiencing Williamstown in the fall is a much more pleasant experience than I expected. Plus, when comparing my time outside to the initial quarantine period, being able to go on runs in the surrounding area has been a gift.
"I honestly feel I haven't been too affected by the lack of a competitive season and not having the chance to actually compete, but for the most part, I've been pretty comfortable with it. I know that one day—may it be sooner rather than later—we all will race again. That alone is enough of a reason to keep training, in my opinion.
"I doubt I'll have much of a say in the workouts we'll do (thank goodness that's the coaches' job), but I'd love to get going again on quicker/track-type work. Track focused workouts have always been my favorite, and if we get the chance to do that with races on the horizon, all the better. I still have my fingers crossed for a track season, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
"If I know anything about running, it's that consistency is key for me. So coming into collegiate cross country, I haven't made any big shifts. Running is running; for me, I prefer to keep it as simple as I can. If I continue to train as I have been, I'm hopeful that my body will eventually manage longer races sufficiently."
Sophomore Grant Gattuso said, "I feel really lucky to be back on campus for this fall. I came into it knowing that it was going to be a little bit different than my previous semester and a half on campus, but I think being in this environment is definitely the most conducive to learning for me. I hope we are able to remain on campus as planned.
"Running is such a cumulative sport. With this in mind, my perspective has been focused on the long term. I am lucky that I am only a sophomore, so I still have plenty of running left at Williams. In my mind, the more training I can do this fall, the more prepared I will be to make big improvements when we can finally run competitively again. I do wonder if maybe having this fall semester to focus on training rather than racing might actually be best for me as a runner over my next few years. I am excited to see!
"One of my favorite things about Williams XC is coming to practice and seeing the whole team after a long day of classes. I love that we have a big team and being able to run down Route 43 with some of the team is a pretty cool experience. Obviously, that is not totally possible this year. We are so lucky to be able to practice in pods and run around Williamstown right now, but I definitely miss being able to run with and see everyone on the team."
Junior Sam Schraver stated, "Overall, I'm very happy to be back! The COVID-related restrictions have been tough to adapt to for sure, but on the whole everything has been more normal than I expected, which is great. I think that we as a team are lucky in that our training doesn't have to change all that much just because we aren't actually going to be racing any time soon: our goals for staying in shape and becoming stronger runners are ones that can have long-reaching effects, and so I think that many people on the team still view this fall as an important season of training, even minus the competition.
"In terms of the track season, I'm certainly hopeful that we will be able to compete in some capacity, and I am training with that in mind. That having been said, though, I don't think the training is all that different looking forward to track than it would be looking forward to next cross country season. A lot of the same principles still apply.
"Being a part of Williams cross country has made a huge positive impact on my life, and even though athletics was not a big factor for me in choosing a college, I can't imagine being here without being on the team now. It's hard to pick one favorite thing about this team, but one that stands out to me is how supportive everyone is of their teammates, especially across different competition levels, areas of study, and extracurricular interests. From the front of the pack to the back, everyone is an important part of the team and is pushed to be their best."