WILLIAMSTOWN, MA- Early on a Wednesday morning in August, Williams Cross Country runners could be found back on campus, running up hills and on trails. After a long summer of training, the Ephs have reunited at Williams for the beginning of another excellent season.
The Ephs, who placed 8th in tough conditions at NCAA Nationals in 2017, are currently ranked 8th nationally and 3rd in the New England Region in the NCAA Preseason Coaches' Poll.
Much of the success in 2017 was led by a strong core of senior athletes who will be deeply missed this season. Co-Captain Victoria Kingham (24th at 2017 NCAAs) was the Ephs top finisher in 2017 and earned All-American honors twice in Cross Country and once in Track. Anna Harleen (94th) and Emily Sundquist (147th), also co-captains, were perennial top finishers for Williams throughout their four years. Harleen also earned multiple All-American honors in Track and Field. Other members of the Class of 2018 that were frequent contributors to team scoring were Stella Worters (159th) and Eliza Matt. In addition to their speedy times, the 2017 senior class will be missed for their leadership and the joy they take in the sport.
Although the class of 2018 has left big spikes to fill, this year's seniors and captains will rise to the challenge. Co-Captain Emily Harris (44th at NCAA regionals) has improved throughout her Williams career and looks to have another impressive season. Co-Captain Lindsay Klickstein, who has also made a lot of strides throughout college, is returning from a year abroad at the Williams-Exeter Program at Oxford and will bring lots of dedication and excitement to the squad.
Other top returners include junior Audrey Rustad (37that NCAAs) and sophomore Erica Barrett (24th in the region). Junior Emma Herrmann, who finished 94th at NCAAs in 2016 will also be returning after missing much of her sophomore season due to injury. After losing a strong group of seniors, Williams' depth, a hallmark of the program, will be crucial to another strong year. Said Head Coach Pete Farwell, "We graduated a very strong '18, and have several other runners abroad this semester, so the makeup of our top 7 will be vastly different, and it will be exciting to see how they have 'stepped up' to compete at the next level."
A large contingent of first-years will be joining the crew of returners. 8 athletes from around the country will join the 2018 team.
Coach Farwell will be joined this year by an excellent team of assistant coaches. Dusty Lopez '01 is entering his third year of coaching Cross-Country and Track at Williams. Jamie Norton, a former runner and coach at Tufts and graduate assistant at North Central College, will also be joining as an Assistant Coach. Farwell commented, "we are delighted to have added an experienced coach in Jamie Norton, who will add lots of new perspective to our training and team dynamics." Finally, Maggie Peard '17 will be returning to Williams as a volunteer coach this fall.
The Ephs will face tough competition both regionally and nationally. Johns Hopkins and Washington University of St. Louis are expected to be strong contenders nationally. In the New England Region, MIT, Tufts and Middlebury will be teams to watch. However, Farwell is optimistic about the 2018 squad, saying that "many of our Eph women harriers have upped their training and put together great summers, and I anticipate seeing their improved race results putting the team in position to contend for the conference title and high regional placing."
The team will open the season with the Little 3 Meet, hosted by Amherst College on September 8th and will subsequently host the Purple Valley Classic on their home course at Mt. Greylock Regional High School on September 22nd.