The Bates men finished 10th at the New England Division III Championships on Saturday, hosted at Twin Brooks by the University of Southern Maine. Steady rain throughout the race made for wet conditions, but it didn't dampen the runners' spirits, as it was clear to anyone watching that the entire team put forth the best effort possible. Devin Dilts '11 finished first for the team, coming in 17th place in 25:52, earning him All-Region honors. Eighteen seconds behind him and also earning All-Region honors was Doug Brecher '10 in 27th with a time of 26:10. It was Brecher's highest finish at regionals in his career, despite the mid-season illness he suffered, and capped off the seaosn well. Eighteen seconds behind Doug was Conor Welch '10 in 46th with a time of 26:28. Welch's performance was also a commendable finish to his cross country career at Bates.
Eighteen seconds behind Conor was Tom Esponette '11 in 61st with a time of 26:46. Tom put himself in a good position early on, but tore his left plantar fascia late in the race and lost a lot of ground as a result. He still managed to grit through it, however, displaying a great deal of courage. Sean Colligan '12 was next for the team, finishing 82nd in 27:05. Colligan had been hoping for a slightly higher finish, but cannot be faulted on effort, and still managed a respectable finish. Closing things out were Ryan Rice '13 in 84th with a time of 27:09, and Andrew Wortham '13 in 109th with a time of 27:28. Rice's race was a solid close to a solid first season, which he can hopefully improve upon in his remaining three years at Bates. Wortham had hoped to run somewhat better, but has had a difficult, injury ridden season, and will have many more opportunities to show everyone what he's capable of.
Ranked 10th in the region heading into the race, the team had been hoping to penetrate further into the top ten, but their finish is certainly not without merit. The top ten teams in the region are incredibly strong this year, exemplified by the fact that this year 200 points earned 9th place, whereas it would have earned 5th place last year. The team's 233 point 10th place performance is a marked improvement on last year's 330 point 13th place performance. Also, while in 10th, this year's team was 88 points off of 4th place Brandeis, but 53 points ahead of 11th place Wesleyan, and a whopping 172 points ahead of 12th place Trinity, showing that behind Bates there was a considerable dropping off, and Bates was able to remain within the upper echelon of teams in the region. Another good thing to be taken away from this year's regional meet is the fact that seniors Doug Brecher and Conor Welch both had exemplary races, ending their careers well. The two were also the only seniors in the squad, which means the team will have a lot to work with next year. Potential is only part of the equation, however, so until next season the Bates men will have their work cut out for them.