On Saturday, Oct. 29, under mild chill and rain on the Quarry Road trails of Colby College, the Cardinal runners faced the 10 other teams of the NESCAC for the title of NESCAC champions. Wesleyan placed 10th for men with 208 points, beating Trinity, and 7th for women, behind Bowdoin and ahead of Conn College.
The course was packed. Colby had won the Maine state championship the week before, and excitement ran high among the students there. The race itself, however, was quite a slow one, likely due to the sub-prime conditions and the weather. Compared to his performance at the Little Three championship, Ben Decker, Williams’ quickest runner to compete in both races, finished 40 seconds slower at the Maine race, while Mohamed Hussein, Amherst’s top finisher at both the NESCAC and Little Three Championship, ran more than 50 seconds slower. Will Dudek ’17, Wesleyan’s fastest in both competitions, finished about 40 seconds slower as well.
Eight kilometers of muddy ditches and damp tracks past the starting line, the scrum for first-place team resulted in Williams with 83 points beating Amherst with 100, while Middlebury and Tufts followed, tied for third with 126.
The Colby men held on to their Maine championship, beating both Bowdoin and Bates just by a hair. Colby came in 5th with 127 points, only one point away from being in a three-way tie for third, while Bowdoin and Bates came in 6th with 149 and 7th with 162, respectively.
Conn College came just behind Bates with 170, with Hamilton finishing at 196, the Cards behind them with 208, and Trinity in last with 271.
The race for the men started at 11 a.m. and ended with Tim Nichols of Tufts in first with a time of 24:58.79, and behind him Luke O’Connor, also representing Tufts, timed at 25:29.80. The first Cardinal to cross the line was Dudek in 10th at 26:19.71, followed by Tate Knight ’18 in 26th with 26:42.98.
“Yesterday wasn’t what we were looking for, but Will and Tate had very strong showings,” Kevin McMorrow ’20 said.
The next Card, Reid Hawkins ’17, came in 35th at 27:01.81, behind him McMorrow in 78th with 22:55.61, and then Connor Cobb ’18 in 99th with 28:27.08.
Several Cards were noticeably absent from the race, including Bill Bajohr ’20, who finished fifth for Wesleyan at the Little Three Championship.
“Normally you take 12 to NESCAC…we only took 11 because we had a few guys who were injured and…well yeah, injuries” McMorrow said.
The women began one hour of soil-saturating rain after the men and came to a similarly slow race.
Williams took first place for the women as well, ahead of Tufts, for the second year in a row. The Ephs finished with only 47 points, well ahead of Tufts in second with 72. Bates took the lead among the Maine schools, this time coming in third with 109 points, a hair ahead of Middlebury with 113. Amherst followed with 132 (not quite comfortably ahead of Bowdoin with 147), and Wesleyan rounded out the Little Three with 205, somewhat ahead of Conn College with 218. Colby, for the women, came out last among the Maine schools with 223, then Trinity at 250 and Hamilton with 331.
While Middlebury sophomore Abigail Nadler came in first comfortably at 22:33.77, second place came with a dramatic fight. A mile from the end, Tufts’ Natalie Bettez pulled together with Amherst first-year Katherine Treanor and only managed to pass her in the last 30 meters, ending with a time of 22:52.53, less than a second ahead of Treanor’s 22:53.45.
The top Cardinal was Caroline Elmendorf ’17 in 25th with a time of 23:48.96. Behind her came Julia Mitchell ’19 in 28th with a time of 23:55.00, Molly Schassberger ’17 in 49th with 24:27.24, Sara Pinsonault ’20 in 66th with 24:46.35, and Rhoen Fiutak ’19 in 77th with 25:13.59. The top Cardinal women had a noticeably tight spread, 1:24.63.
The men and women will go on to the regional NCAA Championships at Stanley Park in Westfield, Mass. on Saturday, Nov. 12. This will mark the end of the season unless either team can qualify for the NCAA DIII National Championships. Last year, the men’s team qualified for Nationals and outpaced their ranking of 17th to finish 11th in the 32-team field. This marked their highest finish in the history of the program. The women have not qualified for Nationals since 2012 after a successful stretch in the early 2000s.
“Right now we’re focusing…we’re focusing on the top seven having strong, focused finishes at regionals,” McMorrow said.