The Middlebury cross country teams start the postseason portion of their respective schedules when they compete in the NESCAC Championships on Saturday in Massachusetts. Tufts will serve as the host of the 2018 edition at Franklin Park in Boston. The 36th running of the annual meet begins with the women's 6-kilometer race at 10:00 a.m., followed by the men's 8-kilometer race at 11:00 a.m.
Amherst captured its first NESCAC Men's Cross Country Championship last season, out pacing Middlebury by 31 points. Bates (109 points), Connecticut College (115 points) and Williams (126 points) rounded out the top five in the team standings. Mohamed Hussein added to the Mammoths' success, winning the individual race for the second time in three years with a time of 25:07.3. Nine of the All-NESCAC First and Second Team runners return to the field in 2018.
Sophomore Matt D'Aquila (Wynnewood, Pa.), junior Theo Henderson (Cold Spring, N.Y.) and senior Miles Meijer (Mountain View, Calif.) have been the lead runners for Middlebury, which won its only NESCAC title in 2010. The Panthers won the Vermont Technical Invitational and their own Aldrich Invitational to start the year. Middlebury also posted a third-place finish at the Connecticut College Invitational in its last tune-up before the NESCAC Championship. Meijer won the season-opening race at Vermont Tech (26:58.81) and was runner-up at the Aldrich Invitational (29:31.0). Henderson finished second at the Vermont Tech race (26:59.93) and was the second Panther across the finish line at Connecticut College, finishing 10th (25:19.7). D'Aquila, an All-NESCAC Second Team performer last year, was third at the Aldrich Invitational (26:37.6), led Middlebury at the Purple Valley Invitational, placing 11th (26:19.2). He was also the top Panther at the Paul Short Invitational Gold Division race with a time of 25:22. D'Aquila enters the NESCAC Championship coming off a seventh-place finish at Connecticut College (25:09.0) to pace Middlebury.
Senior Cosmo Brossy (Los Angeles, Calif.) and junior Clark Ricciardelli (Hingham, Mass.), both All-NESCAC First Team honorees last year, lead Amherst as it attempts to defend its title. Amherst captured the Little Three Championship for the second straight year as Ricciardelli and Brossy finished 2-3 with times of 19:30.4 and 19:32.3, respectively. Ricciardelli added a seventh place finish at the Purple Valley Invitational (26:04.3), where the Mammoths placed fourth. Brossy was the leader at the Paul Short Invitational Gold Division race (25:12). At the Connecticut College Invitational, Amherst was four points better than Williams to win the race and Brossy paced the Mammoths with a runner-up performance time of 24:54.6.
Williams won four straight NESCAC titles before Amherst's victory last season and owns 16 championships overall. The Ephs were the runners-up at their own Purple Valley Invitational and finished second at the Little Three Championship, the Saratoga Invitational, and the Connecticut College Invitational. Sophomore Aidan Ryan (New York, N.Y.) and junior Ryan Cox (Bainbridge Island, Wash.) have been the top runners for Williams this season. Ryan was third at the Saratoga Invitational (25:14.5), sixth at the Purple Valley Invitational (26:04.1), and 11th at Connecticut College (25.20.0). Cox, who finished 15th at last year's NESCAC Championship race, led the Ephs at Connecticut College with a third-place finish (24:55.8) and placed fourth at the Purple Valley race (25:56.3) and Saratoga (25:17.6).
Tufts, which is hosting the NESCAC Championship for the first time since 2002, last won a NESCAC title in 2012 and has four championships in program history. Seniors Dylan Jones (Natick, Mass.) and Colin Raposo (Burlington, Mass.) have led the Jumbos. Jones won the season-opening race at Bates with a time of 26:23.0, while Raposo placed fifth (26:51.2). Jones was also the top Jumbo runner at the Purple Valley Invitational (27:57.0) leading Tufts to a seventh-place finish. Senior Brian Reaney (Portsmouth, N.H.), who was the second-best runner for the Jumbos at the Purple Valley Invitational (27:05.5), led Tufts at the Paul Short Invitational Gold Division race (26:15) and Jones followed with a time of 26:16. Tufts finished fourth at the Connecticut College Invitational, led by Raposo's time of 25:21.6, good for 13th overall.
Bowdoin has won three NESCAC Championships, the last coming in 2002. Senior Sean MacDonald (South Burlington, Vt.) has been the top runner for the Polar Bears this season. Bowdoin won the Maine State Championship and MacDonald won the individual title with a time of 25:11.2, 15 seconds faster than the second-place finisher. MacDonald added a fourth-place finish at the New England Championships (25:04.45). Bowdoin enters the NESCAC Championship fresh off winning its own invitational.
Other runners to watch in the men's race include senior Henry Colt (Whately, Mass.) and junior James Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.) of Bates. Colt was the runner-up at the Bates/Colby Class Wave race (16:07 over 5K) and finished second in a home race versus Southern Maine and Tufts (26:41.5). Jones, the 2016 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, led the Bobcats at the Maine State Championship with a time of 25:56.0. Junior Eli Decker (Concord, Mass.) has been the top runner for Colby in three races this season, winning the Bates/Colby Class Wave race with a time of 16:04 over the 5K course. He placed third at the Maine State Championship (25:26.3) and led the Mules at Connecticut College (25:33.7). Connecticut College junior Danny Aschale (Cambridge, Mass.) and senior Scott Mason (Chestnut Hill, Pa.) were both All-NESCAC First Team performers from last year. Mason was last year's NESCAC runner-up, while Aschale finished third. Aschale was the runner-up at the Maine State Championship (25:26.1) and third at the Purple Valley Invitational (25:55.8). Mason was fourth at the Maine State Championship (25:30.2) and the pair finished 4-5 at the Camels' own invitational with times of 24:58.6 and 24:58.8, respectively. The Continentals have been paced by junior Bryce Murdick (Sandwich, N.H.) in three races. He helped Hamilton win its own Hamilton Short Course race with a time of 15:45.8 and was the runner-up at the Hamilton Invitational (26:24.5). At Trinity, junior Ace McAlister (Great Barrington, Mass.) has led the Bantams. He won the Trinity Invitational by 20 seconds to open the season (16:27.3), and was third at the UMass Dartmouth Invitational (24:56.09). McAlister finished ninth in the Brown Division race at the Paul Short Invitational (25:17). Wesleyan junior Kevin McMorrow (Wingdale, N.Y.) led the Cardinals at the Little Three Championships, posting a time of 20:07.1. He was also Wesleyan's top finisher at the Regional Border Battle at Rowan, recording a time of 25:56.
Last season, Williams won its third straight women's title and 16th overall NESCAC Championship, edging runner-up Middlebury by 15 points, the smallest margin of victory since the Panthers defeated the Ephs by nine points in 2014. Tufts placed third (82 points), while Bates (90 points) and Amherst (133 points) rounded out the top five teams. Amherst's Nicky Roberts captured individual honors, covering the 6K course in a time of 21:19.9.
The top five finishers from last year's women's race have all graduated, but seven of the 14 All-NESCAC honorees return to the field, including 2016 NESCAC Champion Abigail Nadler (Chicago, Ill.), a senior from Middlebury.
Junior Emma Herrmann (Northville, Mich.) has been the top runner for Williams all season finishing in the top 10 in every race she has competed. She helped the Ephs win the Little Three title and earn runner-up honors at the Purple Valley and Saratoga Invitationals. Hermann was the runner-up at the Little Three Championship (15:36.4) and fourth at the Saratoga Invitational (17:55.5). Senior Emily Harris (Manchester, N.H.), who placed 27th at the NESCAC Championship last season, has been the second-best runner for the Ephs, finishing a place behind Hermann in nearly every race. She had a season-best time of 18:01.5 at the Saratoga Invitational where she was fifth. Hermann and Harris finished 9-10 at the Connecticut College Invitational with times of 22:08.7 and 22:11.7, respectively. Junior Audrey Rustad (Boise, Idaho), an All-NESCAC Second Team performer last season, also returns for Williams. She was third at the Little Three Championships (15:37.4).
Middlebury, last year's runner-up, has won four races as a team, including the Connecticut College Invitational, the final tune-up to the NESCAC Championship. The Panthers last won the NESCAC title in 2014, and have captured the crown 13 times overall. Senior Rory Kelly (Winnetka, Ill.), who finished 15th at the 2017 NESCAC Championship race, has paced Middlebury this season, finishing in the top 10 four times. She won Middlebury's own Aldrich Invitational (19:30.9), was second at the Vermont Tech Invitational (19:45.81), finished fifth at the Purple Valley Invitational (23:01.2), and placed fourth at the Connecticut College Invitational (21:38.2). She was also the first Panther across the finish line at the Paul Short Gold Division race with a time of 21:58.
Tufts has one NESCAC title to its credit, winning the NESCAC crown in 1987, and placed third last season. The duo of senior Natalie Bettez (Boston, Mass.) and junior Lydia Heely (Medway, Mass.) have provided the Jumbos a solid 1-2 punch this year, helping Tufts win a race versus Bates and place third at the Purple Valley Invitational. Bettez is the top returning runner in the field, having finished sixth at last year's championship to earn All-NESCAC First Team honors. She won the season-opening Bates Invitational (18:08.8) and finished first at the Purple Valley Invitational (22:06.9) and the New England Championships (17:57.85). Heely led the Jumbos at the Maine State Championship (22:50.0), finishing eighth, and was third at Bates (18:55.6).
Bates will be looking to claim its first NESCAC title in program history. The Bobcats placed fourth last season and have finished among the top four teams four times in the last six years. Senior Katie Barker (Burlington, Vt.) and junior Olivia LaMarche (Lynnfield, Mass.) are the lead runners for Bates. Barker was the runner-up at the season-opening Bates/Colby Class Wave races (14:36 over 3K) and in a home race versus Tufts (18:48.0). She added a fifth-place finish at the Maine State Championship (22:20.9) and was the top Bobcat at the Pre-Nationals race in Winneconne, Wisconsin (22:49.1). LaMarche, an All-NESCAC Second Team performer last season, finished third in the Class Wave race (14:50 over 3K), was fourth against Tufts (19:01.4), and posted a time of 23:11.2 at the Pre-Nationals race.
Wesleyan, which is seeking its first NESCAC title, has been led by the duo of senior Julia Mitchell (Bellevue, Wash.) and sophomore Becky Lopez-Anido (Orono, Maine). Mitchell won the Little Three individual race with a time of 15:33.9 to help the Cardinals claim second overall in the team standings. Lopez-Anido was the first Wesleyan runner across the finish line at the Paul Short Invitational Brown Division race (22:31.0). The duo finished back-to-back at the Regional Border Battle race at Rowan. Lopez-Anido was 16th (21:59.1), while Mitchell followed in 17th place (21:59.7) to lead the Cardinals to a third-place finish in the team standings.
Other runners to watch in this year's championship race include Amherst's Olivia Polischeck (Palos Verdes, Calif.) and Kristin Ratliff (Cooperstown, N.Y.). Polischeck, a sophomore, led the Mammoths at the Little Three Championship (15:52.3) and the Paul Short Brown Division race (22:37), while Ratliff, a junior, was the top Amherst runner at the Purple Valley Invitational (23:15.0) and the Connecticut College Invitational (22:34.4). Senior Julia O'Rourke (Marion, Mass.) led Bowdoin to a win at its own invitational with a runner-up performance and time of 23:06.78. She added a time of 23:18.8 at the Maine State Championship and crossed the finish line in a time of 19:25.58 at the New England Championships. Sophomore Sophia Gorman (Charlotte, Vt.) has paced the Colby Mules this season. She was the runner-up at the Maine State Championship (22:04.7) and finished ninth at the Connecticut College Invitational (21:47.1). Connecticut College's Meredith Cronin (Foxborough, Mass.) has been the top competitor in all four races for the Camels. A sophomore, Cronin finished second at the Trinity Invitational, opening the year with a season-best time of 20:08.4. Senior Grace Heller (Ridgefield, Conn.) and sophomore Brigit Humphreys (Sherman, Conn.) have been the leaders for Hamilton, which has three top 10 team finishes this year. The Continentals won the season-opening Hamilton Short Course race and their own invitational. Heller won both races finishing with times of 14:44.2 and 18:27.8, respectively. Humphreys was Hamilton's top runner at the Purple Valley Invitational (23:53.8). Junior Samantha Feenstra (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) helped Trinity win its own season-opening invitational with a winning time of 19:54.2 and has been the top Bantam in all five races this year. She had two other top 10 finishes, placing fourth at the James Early Invitational (18:44.05) and sixth at UMass Dartmouth (18:28.44).
Results from the NESCAC Cross Country Championships will be posted at NESCAC.com.
ABOUT FRANKLIN PARK
The Franklin Park will be the site of the Division I Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) cross country championships the day before (Oct. 26). The course has hosted countless high school and collegiate meets throughout the years, and is the site of the NCAA Division I Northeast Regional Championship every other year. The park includes courses for 5,000 meters, 6,000 meters, 8,000 meters and 10,000 meters. Franklin Park also won the honor of hosting the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 1992, as a special 12.5 kilometer course was used for competition. Each course includes variants of three major loops, the stadium loop, the Bear Cage hill loop, and the wilderness loop.
-- Courtesy of the NESCAC --