|Ephs Win 18th Straight Little Three Title|
|October 22, 2005|
|click here for photos from the meet|
The men's cross country team knew it wouldn't be easy, with a very strong Wesleyan squad set to challenge their remarkable 17-year Little Three winning streak. Just two weeks earlier at the New England Championships the Ephs had handled the Cardinals, but if the race were scored as a dual meet, the strength of the Cardinal pack would have given them the victory. The Ephmen hoped, however, that their muddy, hilly Mt. Greylock High School course, along with another two weeks of hard training, would deliver the title. Typical of most Little Three meets during the streak, several Ephmen rose to the occasion, capturing first place once again with 24 total points to the Cardinals’ 34 and the Lord Jeffs’ 75.
A cold, windy October morning greeted the competitors on Saturday as they warmed up around the much drier, although still muddy, 8-kilometer route. Head Coach Pete Farwell once again laid out the course to avoid the soggy front soccer-field loop, instead starting the race towards the baseball field loop before traversing the two woods loops backwards, and finishing with one more of each loop. Farwell said during the week leading up, “I want you getting closer and closer to the perfect race. Try starting out a little faster, and beginning to push for the line from further away than you have before this season.” As the gun went off at 1:15 with “Eye of the Tiger” blaring on the makeshift sound-system, several packs quickly established themselves at the front of the race. The Ephs tried to remember what tri-captain Steve Acton ’06 had said on the line, “Whatever you do, remember it’s the Little Three, make sure to have fun.” Wesleyan clearly had a plan for the victory from the start, and sent out each of their top five shadowing a Williams harrier. Up front Neal Holtschulte ’06 and Stephen Wills ’07 ran with top Cardinals Weston Fuhrman and Owen Kiely, while Morgan Seybert ’08 and Chris Ellis-Ferrara ’07 also found a white-and-red jersey right on their shoulder. Andy Stevenson ’07, Bill Ference ’07, Corey Levin ’08, and Brendan Christian ’09 also got out well, choosing their own strategies and moving up through the field.
About 2.5 miles into the race the team competition began to take shape. Christian blew past Stevenson and continued to pour on the pace, and shortly after a pack of seven Amherst harriers flew by with Ference and Levin in tow. They circled the second woods loop, the windy baseball fields, and headed down the homestretch of the grass track towards one more muddy loop. With only a mile left in the race, Ellis-Ferrara, Christian, Ference, and Levin began to roll, while Seybert and Stevenson tried to hang on. Unknown to them at the time, Holtschulte and Wills had just captured first and second place in 25:25 and 25:28 respectively. Wills recounted their final break: “We decided to make our push on the last long uphill, and it worked. That’s one of the first times a race has played out exactly as I planned before the start.” Jim Clayton ’08 also began a long drive for the line, closing in on the pack of Amherst runners and running an impressive second half of the race. Wesleyan’s third runner managed to sneak across in 5th, but Ellis-Ferrara, Christian, and Seybert captured 6th, 7th, and 8th place to round out the Eph scoring and wrap up the victory. Behind them, Ference and Levin sprinted hard to the tape, placing 9th and 11th respectively, while Clayton and the Amherst pack managed to pass Stevenson as he fell and slid down the final hill. They sprinted to the line in 27:01 and 27:06, while Mike Davitian ’07 displayed his blistering kick to cross in 27:07 for 20th place.
Behind him, the one-on-one battles continued to the very end, with Sean Hyland ’07 crossing next for the Ephs in 24th. Chris Furlong ’07 also displayed the spirit that defines the Little Three competition, out-kicking an Amherst runner right at the line to place 61st in 30:10 for a huge personal-best. Along with Acton, he also won the “sticky bun” award, given by the team to the two runners who everyone would most like to keep quiet for a few minutes while eating a delicious pastry.
All in all, a great meet, a great victory, and most importantly, a great time with great friends. King Slow Boy Geoff O’Donoghue ’06 called it, “The most fun I’ve ever had at a cross country meet”. Next week the team will travel to Wesleyan and try to recapture the NESCAC Championship, where they have placed second the past two years. Go Ephs!
Men’s 8000 Meters:
Williams 1-2-6-7-8-(9)-(11) 24
Wesleyan 3-4-5-10-12 34
Amherst 13-14-15-16-17 75
1. Holtschulte Wms 25:25