For the first time in years, the NESCAC Men’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship did not have a pre-meet favorite to bring home the team title. With the team title up for grabs, every team fielded their best team and all eleven NESCAC schools gunned for the prized team title. By the midpoint of the meet, however, it was clear that only four teams had what it took to win: Tufts, Middlebury, Williams, and Bates.
Already exhausted from a day of hard competition, the Bates men still could not suppress their excitement upon winning the team title when they swarmed Coach Fresh and jumped up and down while cheering “Bates, Bates, Bates...” But this, still, was not the end of the meet for the exhausted team. The team still had one more lap to run. The team ran one final lap to show respect to the coaches, parents, and alumni of the track program who made the victory possible. One last lap for the alumni. One last lap for the coaches. One last lap for victory
Then the 800 Meter Run happened.
Catalyzed by the 800, during the second half of the meet Bates shifted into overdrive and no other school could keep up. Bates fielded two entries in the 800: James Lepage and Nick Barron. But, because of seed times, only James made the fast heat and Nick had the disadvantage of trying to place out of the slower heat. Nick ran first, dropping a monstrous final 200 to win the slower heat in 1:55. Just moments after Nick ran, the gun went off for James’ race and James sat comfortably in second, allowing the pace to go out slow so that Nick’s time had a better chance of scoring. Even going into the second lap, James remained patient knowing that the slowness of his heat ensured a high placement for Barron. All James had to do was keep the pace slow and beat all the Tufts, Williams, and Middlebury runners in his heat. James did just that. Barron’s monster run out of the slow heat and Lepage’s tactics in the fast heat resulted in 14 unexpected points for Bates. Nick’s time was good enough for 2nd and James’ for 3rd place overall!
The rest of the team fed off of Nick and James’ success in the 800 and never looked back. Bates closed the meet with huge step up performances by Bates representatives in the later events. Adam “Ace” Spencer, who was not seeded to score any points in the meet, placed in his third event, claiming sixth in the 200, edging both a Williams and Tufts runner by less than a tenth of a second. Tully Hannon also had a huge step up performance in the 5k, kicking his last 600 in a 1:31 to take 2nd place. Inside in the vault, Sam Goldstein and John Wisener also posted valuable points claiming 2nd and 8th places, respectively. In the throwing circle, Sean Enos and David Pless backed up there early meet success in the throws with a 3rd place finish by Enos and a third individual title by David Pless in the Discus (the throwing duo also went 1, 2 in the Shot and 1,3 in the Hammer Throw earlier in the meet).
Because of a second half surge, Bates held a tenuous lead over Tufts University heading into the relays but needed victories over the top seeded Tufts 4x400 relay team and Tufts All-American DMR team to secure victory. Seeded over two seconds behind the Tufts 4x400 team and running a makeshift team due to injuries, Bates showed unprecedented moxie by just competing in the event. Adam Spencer in his fourth event of the day led off the relay handing off to Eric Wainman, who recently recovered from a stress fracture, was running for the first time this outdoor season. Wainman ran well regardless and handed off to Nick Barron who had already placed in the 1500 and 800 earlier in the meet. Heading into the final leg Tufts held a slight edge over Bates when James got the baton from Barron. But as New England knows by now, James does not lose closely contested relays. James ran a monster anchor leg of 49.low to pass and edge the Tufts team by half a second and ensure that Tufts did not gain any points on Bates heading into the final event. By the final event, all other events were done and the Bates team, along with many alumni, parents, and fans lined the track with anticipation of a NESCAC Championship over a decade in the making. Encouraged by those that lined the track, Bates finished ahead of Tufts, Middlebury, and Williams to capture only the school’s third NESCAC championship since 1993.
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