Hussein Leads Amherst to Second Place Finish at UMass Invitational
Issue   |   Wed, 09/16/2015 - 00:03

The men’s cross country team got off to a strong start at the UMass Invitational last weekend. Facing a six-team field from Division I, the team amassed 59 points and finished second overall behind the University of Connecticut.

The biggest story of the meet was sophomore Mohamed Hussein’s first overall finish in the 6K. He ran the race in 19:28 and finished a full four seconds ahead of any others in the 91-person field. Because of this performance, Hussein was recognized as both the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association men’s cross country national athlete of the week and the NESCAC performer of the week. After a strong debut season last year, the sophomore looks to have improved during the offseason.

With this performance, Hussein establishes himself as an early favorite for NESCAC and national titles this season.
“The way I look at it is that my strong form is a continuation of a solid year last year,” Hussein said. “It’s really encouraging to me to have been able to showcase my growth from last year at the race. I was looking for consistency and growth from last year, and I proved to myself that I’m stronger and fitter than I was a year ago. Of course, it feels good to be rewarded for my efforts but more importantly, I passed one test out of many, and I’m taking it one day at a time.”

Hussein was not, however, the only Amherst runner who put in a strong performance. Seniors Dan Crowley and Jeff Seelaus finished with times of 19:51 and 19:56, good for seventh and 11th overall.

“I think we really showcased our depth at this meet,” captain Crowley said. “It obviously would’ve been nice to get the team win, but a second place finish and having the individual winner in a race where every other team is Division I is a pretty strong start to the year.”

In addition to these runners, four others factored into the Jeffs’ final score. Sophomore Craig Nelson finished with a 19:58, earning 13th place at the meet.

Brothers Tucker Meijer ’19 and Raymond Meijer ’17 came next. The first-year ran a time of 20:18, earning 27th place, while the junior finished a mere second behind him in 29th place.

“It’s still so early in the season, but it’s a positive sign for what’s to come that we more than held our own against Division I teams,” Raymond Meijer said. “Everyone’s in a good space where we’re not getting ahead of ourselves and taking things step by step.”

Rounding out the scoring Jeffs was junior Kevin Connors, who finished with a time of 20:25 to earn 32nd place.
The second-place team finish represents a large improvement over last season at the UMass Invitational, where the Jeffs finished in fifth. A strong meet to kick off the year competing amongst Division I powerhouses bodes well for the purple and white’s chances in the NESCAC this season.

Their next meet will be at the Purple Valley Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 26, hosted by Williams.
Last season Amherst placed fourth out of a field of 21 teams. Sophomores Scott Nelson and Chris Butko will look to improve upon their 5000-meter times of 17:36 and 17:56, respectively while Hussein and others will look to build on this week’s result. The meet is slated to start at 12:30 p.m.