Both Bates College cross country teams already stood toe-to-toe with the top programs in NCAA Division III before they departed campus for the 50th Roy Griak Invitational this past weekend.

The Bobcats further embellished that status in the venerable event at the University of Minnesota. The No. 24 women were runner-up among 29 teams, while the No. 11 men topped all but two squads in a field of 26.

Only No. 2 Wartburg defeated Bates on the women’s side, where the Bobcats finished ahead of four schools — Carlton, Wisconsin-La Crosse, St. Olaf and Wisconsin-Stevens Point — ranked ahead of them in national polls.

Sophomore Hannah Zeltner continued her splendid season, finishing ninth of 412 runners with a time of 23:17.2 around the six-kilometer course.

Also finishing at the front of the pack were Kallie Nixon (15th), Gabrielle Naranja (22nd), Elena Jay (23rd) and Isabelle Unger (34th).

The men’s senior tandem of Mike Martin and Tully Hannan was productive as ever. Martin (26:03.8) took third and Hannan (26:05.5) in a field of 296.

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That boosted Bates (83 team points) to a third-place team finish behind Wisconsin-Eau Claire (69) and Wisconsin-Oshkosh (76).

Rounding out the Bates scoring quintet were John Stansel in 19th, Noah Graboys in 22nd and Gregg Heller in 34th.

Football ready for Ephs

After beating Williams only once in its first 23 tries, the Bates football program will aim for its third straight win over the Ephs when it travels to Williamstown, Mass., for a NESCAC clash Saturday.

Bates (1-1) rallied in the final minute of regulation for a 20-16 victory over pesky Tufts on Saturday. Both the Bobcats and Ephs (0-2) suffered narrow losses to NESCAC champion Trinity — Bates 28-17 in its season opener, and Williams 20-13 a week ago.

Through two games, the Bobcats flaunt one of the most prolific ground games in the country. Their average of 303.5 yards per contest rank No. 8 in Division III.

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Senior slotback Shawn Doherty leads the way. The co-captain churned out a career-high 182 yards and two touchdowns against Tufts. He is complemented by classmate Ryan Curit and quarterback Patrick Dugan.

Doherty was named NESCAC offensive player of the week, the first time a Bates player has earned that honor since 2002, when Sean Atkins rushed for seven touchdowns against rival Bowdoin.

Headlining the Bates defense are linebacker Adam Cuomo and safety Andrew Kukesh. Each is tied for the Division III lead at nine solo tackles per game.

Bates beat Williams 35-26 in 2011 and 33-6 in 2012. Its only other victory in the series was a 10-7 triumph in 2003.

Johnson named all-conference

Senior golfer Garrett Johnson became Bates’ first all-NESCAC golfer in five years with his top-10 performance in the league’s fall qualifier at Brunswick Golf Club.

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Johnson tied for ninth out of 50 players, matching Eric Laorr and Fitz Bowen of Middlebury. He shot 76 Saturday and 78 Sunday for a two-day total of 154.

Lee Smith was the previous player to secure all-league recognition for Bates in 2008.

Hard-fought stalemate

The Bates men’s soccer team didn’t back down against a pair of nationally ranked opponents.

Sophomore Joe Maffly-Kipp made five saves to post his first shutout of the season in a 0-0 deadlock with No. 15 Trinity. Nick Ford and Ethan Kass marrowly missed shots in overtime that could have boosted Bates to victory.

Peabo Knoth scored on an assist from Aaron Nickelsberg for the Bobcats in a 3-1 loss to No. 4 Amherst. The Lord Jeffs extended their unbeaten streak to 28 games, and Bates was only the fifth opponent to score against Amherst dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season.

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On the women’s side, Leah Humes scored her first collegiate goal in a 2-1 loss to undefeated Trinity.

It was a tough day overall for Bates athletics against Amherst. Women’s soccer dropped a 3-0 verdict to the No. 19 Lord Jeffs, while Amherst’s field hockey team, ranked No. 14 in Division III, prevailed 6-0.

Noteworthy

• Senior Tommy Berg represented Bates in the ITA Regional men’s tennis qualifier at Middlebury, winning two singles matches and another in doubles on the first day. Berg then defeated Jordan Feit of Wheaton, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, before falling to Bowdoin’s Luke Trinka, 6-4, 6-2, in the round of 16.

• Volleyball split a pair of matches in the Mid-Coast Classic at Bowdoin. Bates defeated the University of New Brunswick at Saint John, 3-2, before a narrow loss to Brandeis by the same score.

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