After traveling 780 air-miles to Winneconne, Wisconsin, the Ephs earned 6th place in the NCAA Divison III National Championship. Together, the top-5 Williams scorers totaled 278 points, just 1 point behind 5th place Wisconsin Oshkosh.
The strategy going into the race was the same as it had been all season, get out well then settle into a steady race pace, trying to move up in the final mile and add a fast finishing kick. The unique element of the strategy was to do this while 'staying in touch with the pack' as the Ephs have been able to do successfully all fall.
Sophomore Chris Lee was the first to cover the 8k course in 24:57.41 for 38th place in the team division - just 10 seconds behind the time necessary for All-American status. Head Coach Pete Farwell was especially pleased with the performance, "Chris moved into the All-American group with a kilometer to go but couldn't quite hold on there, but a superb race, and one of our few to break 25 minutes in the past years." While Lee may be a relative 'novice' in cross country—he played soccer in high school and was injured for a large part of his first year—Farwell is optimistic for the future, "With more base and endurance training he will develop the strength to complement his speed and be a real champion."
Lee was followed by freshman Colin Cotton (55th place- 25:07.34)—the fourth fastest freshman finish in the field. For Cotton, the key the entire season has been consistency. Farwell notes that Cotton always finds a strong surge and flying kick to the finish, "He has been vital in our pack in all of our big meets"—today was no exception.
Senior Josephat Koima (56th place- 25:07.86) was the third Williams finisher, junior Wade Davis (57th place- 25:07.92) was the fourth. To have three consecutive Williams finishers all separated by less than 1 second demonstrates the effectiveness of this 'pack running' strategy which the Ephs have perfected.
Senior captain Anthony Raduazo (72nd place- 25:16.32) rounded out the scoring Ephs. He was followed by senior Jack Fitzhenry (95th place- 25:28.19) and senior captain Mark Springel (145th place- 25:55.76) finished as the Ephs' 6th and 7th finishers respectively.
The individual performances also mark as a capstone race for 4 outstanding cross country careers from Koima, Raduazo, Fitzhenry, and Springel. The four racers have been mainstays of the program and will be missed in years to come.
Over 30 fans found their way from the Purple Valley—including several recent alumni—to Wisconsin to cheer on the team, testament to the team spirit and camaraderie of the group as a whole.
In the overall team competition, North Central (Ill.) won its second title in three years with a final tally of 110 points. They were followed by last-year's champion Haverford College with 172 points. Washington University of St. Louis placed 3rd with 206 points, SUNY Genseo fourth with 235 points.
Ben Sathre from St. Thomas (Minn.) captured the individual title with a time of 23:44.27. He was followed by Lee Berube from SUNY Geneseo with a time of 23:49.60 and John Johnson from St. Lawrence with a time of 24:06.78.
The performance adds yet another top-10 national performance to the Ephs' record book and puts an exclamation mark on a profoundly successful fall of running.
In total, Farwell reflected that it was a weekend, "full of team spirit with purple cows, The Bear, a Williams flag, and best of all a true champion team."