Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Compete at NCAA Championships, Place Ninth and 11th on the National Level
Issue   |   Wed, 12/03/2014 - 00:52

Men

The Amherst men’s cross country team traveled to Ason, Ohio two weeks ago to take part in the 2014 NCAA Div. III national championships. The Jeffs qualified for this event as a result of their second place finish at regionals. At nationals, the Jeffs took ninth among 32 teams with 263 points. North Central (Ill.) won the event, followed by St.Olaf and Wisconsin-La Crosse.

NESCAC foes Colby and Williams took fifth and sixth respectively. The Jeffs’ performance this season marked their best ever, and they met their goal of being a top 10 team in the nation, after starting the season ranked 26th.

Hussein Mohamed ’18 capped off his incredibly successful first year campaign with a 23rd overall finish in a field of 280. Mohamed completed the 8K in a time of 24:34.9. For his performance, Mohamed garnered All-American honors. He was also the top freshman finisher in the field.

Greg Turissini ’15 finished under three seconds behind Mohamed, crossing the tape at 24:37.1. Dan Crowley ’16 rounded out the top three for the Jeffs. His 25:04.9 finishing time slated him 51st overall.

Other top runners for the Jeffs included Romy Sklar ’15 (25:20.6), Raymond Meijer ’17 (25:28.7), KC Fussell ’15 (26:21.1) and Steven Lucey ’17 (27:38.6).

“Nationals was a great achievement for Amherst men’s cross country,” Mohamed said. “We finished ninth which is the best finish at the NCAAs in program history. The more impressive thing is that we finished this high after a five year hiatus from the championship meet. I was quite happy with my performance and being an All-American but it was a day to celebrate the team’s impressive achievement and I was lucky to be part of the culmination and steady growth that theam experienced this season. I will cherish the experience I got from nationals, and it will be crucial to my growth in the next three seasons.”

“The season as a whole was an incredible experience and I’m so very proud of what we did throughout the year,” Coach Eric Nedeau said. “I felt there was a great amount of development, and the guys took what we learned on race day each time out to make themselves better for the next competition … we progressed throughout the season with each race bettering the one before. We had great leadership from the captains in helping to accomplish what we hoped to do, and we are already excited for the prospects of next fall.”

Women

The Amherst women’s cross country team finished 11th out of 32 teams at the 2014 Div. III NCAA national championships hosted by Wilmington College in Ohio. Johns Hopkins won the event and MIT and St. Lawrence rounded out the top three. NESCAC competitors Middlebury, Williams and Tufts also attended the event, taking sixth, eighth and 16th overall.

“I could not be prouder of this team and everything that they accomplished this season,” Coach Cassie-Funke Harris said. “When you look at the athletes who ran at nationals, it’s not a drastically different group from last year. For that same group to go from not qualifying for nationals last year to placing 11th this year is incredible. It’s a real testament to their dedication and their belief in themselves.”

Savanna Gornisiewicz ’17 continued her impressive sophomore year campaign with a 23rd overall finish in the 6K. Her 22:20.0 finish garnered her All-American accolades.

“In regards to nationals it was an experience I’ll never forget,” Gornisiewicz said. “I think we had a really great season overall and all our hard work really came through at nationals. Being ranked 21st all year, no one was expecting us to place as well as we did, so coming out of nowhere and doing that well as an underdog team was really exciting,”

The second harrier for the Jeffs was Nicky Roberts ’18 who claimed 41st overall with a time of 22:35.4.

Lizzy Briskin ’15, Lexi Sinclair ’16 and Jessie Kaliski ’15 all had strong finishes too with respective finishing times of 22:49.8, 23:18.1 ad 23:44.7.

Betsy Black ’16 and Cat Lowdon ’17 also competed for the Jeffs. The two crossed the line in close proximity with times of 24:38.8 and 24:45.6.

This was Amherst’s 13th overall appearance at the NCAA National Championships. At the majority of these meets, the Jeffs have placed 11th or better. Their all time top performances were in 2006 and 2007 when they were second overall and the national champions, respectively.

“I think what I’m most struck by as I look back at this team and this season is how unselfishly they all worked together and how much confidence they had in themselves and one another,” Funke Harris said. “On paper, we had no reason to expect this season to go as well as it did, but they put it out there at the start of the season that they wanted to finish in the top three at NESCACs and qualify for nationals despite finishing eighth at NESCACs last year and missing nationals by three team places.”

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