MEDFORD – For the first time since 2002, Tufts University will host the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) men's and women's cross country championships on Saturday (Oct. 27) at the historic Franklin Park course in Boston.
The action will commence with the six-kilometer women's race at 10 a.m., followed by the eight-kilometer men's race at 11 a.m.
This is the 44th conference championship overall, and the 36th at which team titles have been contested. The first seven were individual meets only.
Tufts hosted the first NESCAC championship back in 1975 – which was only a men's race - and was the site for three of the first eight conference meets. This will mark the seventh time that Tufts has hosted the event, including 1975, 1979, 1982, 1987, 1991 and 2002. Tufts returns as the host for the first time in 16 seasons on Saturday.
A total of 11 nationally ranked teams will be competing for the two conference titles. The highest-ranked squad on either side is the Middlebury women at #5 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) top 35. They are followed closely by #7 Tufts and then Wililams at #12, Wesleyan #15, and Bates #26. The men's race will feature six teams which are ranked among last week's USTFCCCA top 35. Amherst was #8, Williams #11, Middlebury #14, Tufts #21, Bowdoin #27, and Connecticut College #33.
Wiliams is the three-time defending champions in the women's race. They edged Middlebury last fall 62-77 by placing all five scorers in the top 20. The championship was the 16th overall for the Ephs.
Amherst is the defending men's conference champion after posting a 35 score with their top five runners all in the top 14 individually. They had a 29-point margin of victory over second-place Middlebury (66) and ended Wililams College's four-year run (2013-16) as league champs. The Ephs have dominated the event over the years with 16 titles.
Individually, the women's race will include 2017 NESCAC champion Abigail Nadler from Middlebury College. Tufts University's Natalie Bettez is a two-time USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week this season. She is also a NESCAC two-time Performer of the Week recipient, while Hamilton College's Grace Heller and Wesleyan University's Julia Mitchell have received that honor once each. Bettez won the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association (NEICAAA) race on this course on October 6.
The men's race will see a new individual champion. The field includes 2018 NESCAC Performers of the Week Aidan Ryan from Williams College, Danny Aschale from Connecticut College, Sean MacDonald from Bowdoin College and Cosmo Brossy from Amherst College. MacDonald was fourth at the NEICAAA championship at Franklin Park (not all conference teams compete at that race).
The Franklin Park course will be the site of the Division I Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) cross country championships the day before (Oct. 26). The famed 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.