HADLEY, Mass. -- Peter Farwell's Eph women harriers look to defend the NESCAC title after winning outright for the first time since 2005 last fall. The Ephs will have aspirations of claiming their 13th NESCAC championship due in large part to the return of three All-Conference performers in senior Celeste Berg (Sebastopol, Calif.), junior Shayna Barbash (Bethesda, Md.) and sophomore Anna Spiers (Chester, Va.). Spiers earned NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors a year ago. JuniorBrianne Mirecki (East Lyme, Conn.) and sophomore Adrienne Strait (Oakland, Calif.) had identical times of 22:54 to lead the Ephs to the title in front of their home crowd at the Purple Valley Invitational. Meanwhile, sophomore Alison Smith (Chapel Hill, N.C.) finished second overall to propel the team to their fifth Little Three title in a row.
"Both our men and women have continued training well and building their championship race fitness and skills," noted Farwell. "We are fairly healthy as a whole for this time of year, and feel we have almost all our athletes coming to a good peak for this NESCAC meet and beyond. To place well in this competitive conference we would like to see our top runner break into the top 5 or 10 finishers, and then to have a very tight pack with a minimal time spread between our first and fifth runners. If we do that we will be in the hunt versus Middlebury and Tufts on the women's side, and Bates, Tufts, Bowdoin and Middlebury on the men's."
While Williams will be looking to defend, Amherst will be looking for its first women's crown since earning back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007. Senior Keri Lambert (Amherst, Mass.) has paced the Jeffs all season, including consecutive titles at Westfield State's James Earley Invitational (21:30) and the Little Three Championship (18:21). Lambert finished second at last year's Championship. Sophomore Lizzy Briskin (Sherborn, Mass.) has two top 10 finishes in 2012.
Senior Addie Tousley (Kensington, Md.) and Middlebury will look to earn their 10th conference crown in the last 15 years after finishing 2010 with the lowest point total (26) for any squad at the annual event since official team scoring began in 1983. Tousley finished last year's race third and earned first place finishes at the Aldrich Invitational (18:13) and the Purple Valley Classic (21:50) this fall. Without three All-Conference selections from a year ago, Tousley will be joined by junior Emily Attwood (Cape Elizabeth, Maine), who earned a spot on the Second Team last fall. Eleven other runners have at least one top-10 finish in Middlebury's six races this fall.
Colby senior Berol Dewdney (Chester, Vt.) earned First Team honors in 2011 and has been running well this season, while Wesleyan senior Julia Mark(Bloomsbury, N.J.) has led her team all fall. Junior Gabrielle Naranja (Fort Kent, Maine) boosted Bates to it first Maine State title since 1990 and will look to challenge the top runners in the field.