In the last three years, the members of the men’s cross country team have been seventh at the NESCAC Championship meet. This year, however, things were different. Bates hosted NESCACs and the team ran one of their best races of the season, placing third overall.
Saturday, October 28 was an unseasonably warm day at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine when the gun went off, which signaled the start of the race. One-hundred and fifty men surged forward, beginning the 8k course in a whirlwind of movement and excitement.
Zach Magin ‘18 led the way for Bates, placing sixth overall and completing the race in 25:32.5. Following him were Ben Tonelli ‘18 in 16th (25:51.4), Ryan Betz ‘19 in 18th (25:53.4), Henry Colt ‘19 in 34th (26:19.1) and Stephen Rowe ‘18 in 35th (26.19.5). Justin Levine ‘20 (26:23.5) and Matt Morris ‘18 (26:55.1) each came in 37th and 69th respectively, backing up the core five runners. Magin will also earn First Team All-NESCAC honors for placing within the top seven runners.
“We had some outstanding performances out there,” said Head Men’s Cross Country Coach Al Fereshetian. “Zach Magin is a leader who stepped up and gave us a great presence at the front of the race and the team really rallied behind him. All the guys really did a super job.”
Amherst won their first NESCAC title in the 34-year history of the meet with an overwhelming victory (35); Middlebury finished second (66). The difference between third, fourth and fifth place was much closer. Bates placed third (109), Connecticut College followed in fourth (115) and Williams finished in fifth (126). Although Conn. College had two runners place second and third, the Bobcats were able to overcome them with solid teamwork and effort throughout the race, running in packs and surging together at the end in order to cut down Bates’ point total.
“Watching that combination of Stephen Rowe, Henry Colt and [Justin Levine]…they probably made up a six point difference in our score right at the end of the meet in the last 100m. That’s been the trademark of our team all year, the depth,” Coach Fereshetian said.
Bates beat Connecticut College by six points; every point matters in a cross country race, and with this in mind, the men’s team did everything they had to do to finish third.
“Over the course of this season, we’ve had this great energy” Colt said. “We just have this positivity and belief in ourselves that really helped us out. Zach always said we need to believe in ourselves and I think we did that really well today.”
This is the best that Bates has placed since tying with Bowdoin for second in 2011. The NESCAC is one of the most competitive athletic conferences in the nation and Bates has only finished in the top three spots four times in the last twenty years.
To further build upon this victory, Bates has not had a win over Williams since placing 6th at the NCAA Championships in 2012, beating them by almost 100 points. Williams has won 16 out of the 34 NESCAC Championships meets held to date; this is the first time that Bates has defeated the cross country powerhouse at NESCACs in over two decades.
“It was a really great race,” Rowe said. “We came in being ranked fifth in this region and beat our ranking. Coming in third in the NESCAC is really huge for us. I think it says a lot about our team and how well our season is coming together that we did so well in such a phenomenal field.”
Following this meet, the men’s cross country team will compete at the NCAA Regional Championships in Gorham Maine on November 11.
“[Regionals] is a whole different race and a whole different day. But this certainly should be a confidence booster for us. Amherst and Middlebury were a good bit in front of us, but I still believe that we can run closer to them. That will be our objective, to narrow that gap,” said Coach Fereshetian.
At Regionals, the Bobcats will set out to prove that they deserve to compete at the NCAA Division III Championships at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois.