Colby Set to Host NESCAC Cross Country Championships on Saturday

Colby Set to Host NESCAC Cross Country Championships on Saturday

HADLEY, Mass. – Colby College will host the 2016 NESCAC Cross Country Championships on Saturday, October 29 at the Quarry Road Trails in Waterville, Maine. The 34th edition of the annual meet begins with the men’s 8-kilometer race at noon, followed by the women’s 6-kilometer race at 1 p.m.

Last year, the Williams Ephs won both team titles, while Amherst runners took home the individual honors in each race. Williams claimed its fourth straight men’s cross country title and the Ephs captured the women’s crown for the first time since 2012.

In 2016, 18 of the 28 runners who earned a spot on last season’s All-NESCAC teams return to the championship races which should create a great atmosphere for the competitors and spectators.

If the Eph women are going to defend their title, they will look to senior Emma Zehner (New Haven, Conn.) and junior Anna Harleen (Ross, Calif.) to lead the team. Both runners have finished 1-2 for Williams in every race they have competed this season. Zehner was the runner-up at the Ron Stonitsch Invitational hosted by Vassar to open the year and added a third-place finish at Williams’ own Purple Valley Invitational. She also led the Ephs at the Paul Short Invitational, finishing 74th with a season-best time of 21:08, as the Ephs were the top Division III team in the Gold Division race. Harleen has registered a pair of top-10 finishes, placing eighth at the Vassar race (19:17) and ninth at the Purple Valley Invitational (22:31.8).

The duo of junior Ben Decker (Yarmouth, Maine) and senior Peter Hale (Swampscott, Mass.) have been leading the pack for the Ephs’ men’s team in its quest for a fourth straight NESCAC title. Decker and Hale finished 2-3 at Vassar and were 4-5 at the finish line at the Purple Valley Invitational. Decker registered a time of 24:37 at the Paul Short Invitational, while Hale crossed the finish line with a mark of 24:39, to help Williams finish 14th in the Gold Division. Hale helped the Ephs win the Little Three race versus Amherst and Wesleyan with a first-place finish and time of 25:08.

Amherst’s Mohamed Hussein (Hargeisa, Somaliland) and Lizzie Lacy (San Mateo, Calif.) are the reigning NESCAC Most Outstanding Performers. Lacy also earned NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors after becoming the first rookie runner to win the conference championship since 2003.

Hussein, a junior, has been the leader for the Purple & White. He was the runner-up at the Purple Valley Invitational, registering a time of 25:26.2 in his first race of the season. He added a fifth-place finish at the NEICAAA Championship (24:45.9) to lead Amherst to a seventh-place finish in the team standings. Although the Purple & White return five seniors in 2016, sophomore Cosmo Brossy (Los Angeles, Calif.) has been a consistent performer, finishing among the top three for Amherst in every race this season. Brossy posted a season-best finish of ninth at the UMass Invitational (19:35) to start the year.

Senior Savanna Gornisiewicz (Pompano Beach, Calif.), a 2015 All-NESCAC Second Team selection, and first-year Katherine Treanor (Chevy Chase, Md.) join Lacy as runners to watch for Amherst in the women’s race. Treanor has been the top runner for the Purple & White in each race. She placed 13th at the Purple Valley Invitational and posted a time of 22:01 in the Brown Division at the Paul Short Invitational to lead Amherst to a 12th-place finish. Gornisiewicz has finished among the top three runners for Amherst in each race, including a season-best, second-place finish at the UMass Invitational where she posted a time of 19:03.

Tufts was the runner-up in the women’s race last season, while its men placed third overall. The trio of junior Brittany Bowman (Camden, Maine), senior Kelly Fahey (Winter Park, Fla.) and sophomore Natalie Bettez (Bolton, Mass.) have paced the Jumbos. Bowman has been the leader in all four races she has competed and led Tufts to wins at the Bates Invitational, where she finished third overall (19:03.8), and the Connecticut College Invitational (21:43.0).

Seniors Tim Nichols (North Lima, Ohio) and Luke O’Connor (Chicago, Ill.) have been the top runners for the men’s squad. Nichols won the Bates Invitational (25:11.9) and ran the fastest time in program history (23:58) in the Gold Division race at the Paul Short Invitational to finish 14th overall. Nichols and O’Connor also finished 1-2 at the Connecticut College Invitational. Nichols beat out his teammate by 26 seconds, posting a winning time of 24:11.1.

Middlebury, which has won the NESCAC women’s title two of the last three years, lost four of its top seven scorers from 2015 to graduation or study abroad opportunities. Despite the losses, sophomore Abigail Nadler (Chicago, Ill.) has been a consistent presence for the Panthers. She has four top-10 finishes in four races, highlighted by a win at the Connecticut College Invitational. She won the race by 15 seconds, posting a time of 21:24.5. She was also second at the Purple Valley Invitational (22:00.8) and placed sixth in the Brown Division race at the Paul Short Invitational (21:08).

Senior Brian Rich (Concord, Mass.) has paced the Middlebury men’s team. He opened the season with a 12th-place finish at the Dartmouth Invitational and added a pair of top-25 finishes at the Purple Valley and Paul Short races. Rich was 12th overall (25:12.3) at the Connecticut College Invitational, leading the Panthers to second place in the team standings.

Senior Jessica Wilson (Cumberland, Maine) has led the Bates women’s squad in 2016. She opened the year with back-to-back wins against Colby and at the Bates’ Super XC Shootout and added a ninth place finish at the Division III Pre-National race in Louisville, Kentucky (21:55.76). Wilson was the runner-up at the Maine State Championship (18:42.90) to help the Bobcats win the team title. Junior Katherine Cook (Burlington, Vt.) has also been a consistent runner for the Bobcat women, finishing runner-up at the Bates Invitational (18:47.4), placing 12th in Louisville (21:55.8) and was third at the Maine State Championships (18:42.90).

The Bates men’s team returns its top seven runners from last year. The Bobcats won their own invitational and placed seventh in at the Division III Pre-National race. First-year James Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and senior Joe Doyle (Glastonbury, Conn.) have been the top two consistent runners for Bates this year. They finished 4-5 at the Bates Invitational and Jones was 12th overall in Louisville with a time of 25:29.66. Jones posted a time of 25:17.3 to win the Maine State Championship in his last outing.

It’s been a collective effort for the host Colby Mules. Several different runners on each team have been the top finisher for both the men and women this season. Most recently, senior David Chelimo (Nyahururu, Kenya) and junior Bernard Kibet (Rift Valley, Kenya) led the Mules at the Maine State Championships, finishing second and third, respectively with times of 25:20.16 and 25:29.65. Sophomore Hannah Springhorn (Guilford, Conn.) was the top runner for Colby in the women’s race, earning a fifth-place finish (18:51.40).

Seniors Michelle Fish (Guilderland, N.Y.) and Lindsay Heyer (Penfield, N.Y.) have been the top two runners for the Hamilton women’s team. Fish and Heyer have each been the top runner for the Continentals in two races each. On the men’s side, senior Jack Pierce (New Gloucester, Maine) and junior Henry Whipple (Montclair, N.J.) have paced the team, finishing in a 1-2 combination in every race. Pierce was Hamilton’s top runner in the first three races of the year, and Whipple narrowly beat out his teammate at the Hamilton Invitational where he was third (25:43.2) and Pierce placed fourth (25:50.2).

Senior Ashley Curran (Franklin, Mass.), an All-NESCAC Second Team runner last season, has once again been the top performer for the Connecticut College women in 2016. She opened the year setting a new 6K school record at the Trinity Invitational, finishing as runner-up with a time of 20:05, and added a third-place finish at the UMass Dartmouth Invitational (18:15). Seniors Bella Franz (Water Mill, N.Y.) and Anna Guay (Watertown, Conn.) have also posted consistent performances for the Camels.

Four different runners have placed first or second for the Connecticut College men’s team. The Camels were third at the Trinity Invitational and took runner-up honors at the UMass Dartmouth race. Rookie Danny Aschale (Cambridge, Mass.) and senior Ben Bosworth (Dorchester, Mass.) have traded first-and second-place finishes among the team standings over the last two races. Aschale led the Camels in the Brown Division race at the Paul Short Invitational, while Bosworth was the team leader at UMass Dartmouth. Most recently, the duo posted top-10 finishes at the Camels’ own invitational.

Sophomore Lauren Barett (Peabody, Mass.) has been Trinity’s top runner in three of the four races this season. The Bantams won their own invitational to open the season, placed third at UMass Dartmouth and were second in the White Division race at the Paul Short Invitational. First-year Ace McAlister (Great Barrington, Mass.) had led the Trinity men’s team in all four races this season. In his collegiate debut, he won the Trinity Invitational (16:18) and followed up with a fourth-place finish at UMass Dartmouth (25:04.03).

Junior Sarah Kelley (Winnetka, Ill.) has led the Bowdoin women’s team in every race this season. She took first place in both Bowdoin Invitationals to start the season and added a 33rd-place finish at the NEICAAA Championships. She enters the NESCAC race coming off a win at the Maine State Championship (18:38.3). On the men’s side, senior Nicholas Walker (Lyme, Conn.) has been the Polar Bears’ top runner. He placed 17th at the NEICAAA race and had a pair of top-5 finishes in the two Bowdoin Invitationals.

For Wesleyan, the senior duo of Molly Schassberger (Winslow, Maine) and Caroline Elmendorf (Bethesda, Md.) have finished first or second for the Cardinals in every race. Schassberger won the Wesleyan Invitational (18:22.47), while Elmendorf was the top Cardinal runner in the Brown Division race at the Paul Short Invitational (22:10). Senior Will Dudek (Montclair, N.J.) has been the leader for the Wesleyan men’s team. He won the Cardinals’ own race (20:31.51) and was eighth in the Brown Division race at the Paul Short Invitational (24:53).

Results will be available at nescac.com on Saturday evening.