Cross Country Teams Ready to Shift Into Gear
Issue   |   Wed, 09/04/2013 - 10:32

WOMEN

Coming off a 3rd place NESCAC result and a 16th place finish at the NCAA national championships in 2012, the Jeffs might be facing an uphill climb if they want to replicate last year’s success and catch Williams at the Little Three Championships.
Spearheading the roster is Lizzy Briskin ’15, who earned Second-Team NESCAC honors last season. After not cracking the starting lineup her freshman year, Briskin enjoyed a phenomenal sophomore campaign, posting a 14th place finish at NESCACs and running the team’s second-fastest time in seven of eight races.

Other returners who competed in the starting lineup last year include Caroline Rose ’16, Betsy Black ’16, Amy Dao ’14 and Olivia Tarantino ’15. Anna Berglund ’16, Jessie Kaliski ’15, Keelin Moehl ’16 and Lisa Walker ’14 are also expected to compete for top-7 positions this fall.

“We’ll need to work together very well as a team, both in practices and meets,” co-captain Brooke Kirkham ’14 said. “We need to improve on group running, which involves good pacing and coordination. If we can all work together to become a stronger collective group of seven — rather than depend on a few star individuals — we’ll put ourselves in a good position to qualify for nationals,” Kirkham said.

The women kick off their season with a meet at Smith next Saturday before participating in the UMass Invitational on Sept. 14.

MEN

After stumbling to a subpar 11th place finish at NCAA regionals last fall — thus failing to qualify for Nationals — the men’s cross country team is looking to re-establish itself as a force in New England this season.

Despite capturing the program’s first-ever ECAC title (a second-tier event) at Williams, the Jeffs struggled badly in other postseason competitions, placing 7th of 11 at NESCACs before finishing well below the top-5 cutoff at NCAA Regionals.
“We had the talent, but for some reason things just didn’t click late in the season,” co-captain Alvaro Morales ’14 said.

Motivated by the bitter end to the 2012 campaign, the Jeffs hope that the returning core of Greg Turissini ’15, KC Fussell ’15, Charlie Reigard ’14, Gus Greenstein ’14, Romey Sklar ’15, Dan Crowley ’16, and Morales can propel the team into the NCAA national championships.

Turissini emerged as the Jeffs’ top runner for much of 2012 — earning NESCAC Performer of the Week honors after speeding through the 5-mile UMass Invitational course in 24:38 (4:55 mile pace) — while Fussell posted the third-fastest time for Amherst at both NESCACs and the NCAA Regionals.

To improve on last year’s finish, the Jeffs will need to overcome the losses of Andrew Erskine, Pat Grimes and Dillon Buckley. Erskine led all Amherst runners with a 16th place result at NESCACs (25:02 over five miles) and a 29th place finish at the NCAA Regionals, while Grimes and Buckley competed regularly in the team’s top-seven lineup.

With somewhat muted expectations, the men begin their season at the UMass Invitational in two weeks (Sept. 14).

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