Men’s Cross Country Looks to Standout Returners to Lead the Team
Issue   |   Thu, 09/01/2016 - 16:43

With 20 returning athletes and a promising group of first-years, the Amherst men’s cross country team is looking forward to a very successful year. Under the guidance of head coach Ned Nedeau and assistant coach Luke Maher, the purple and white seek a third straight top-10 finish at nationals.

2016 will be Nedeau’s 20th season as the head coach of the program (his 22nd overall as a coach). Nedeau has competed in the Olympic trials, medaled in the World Championships, won the title of National Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year, been inducted to both the Northeastern University Hall of Fame and Maine Running Hall of Fame, among may other accolades. With his knowledge of the sport and experience as a world-class runner, he has molded the program into a national powerhouse. Entering his fourth season as assistant coach, Luke Maher also adds his own unique expertise to the program. Maher was a successful runner at Tufts, twice being named to the NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team. Additionally, he has spent extensive time training and working with runners internationally in Iten, Kenya.

Looking back on the team’s 2015 season, we can see the momentum that is carrying over to this upcoming fall season. The 2015 season began with a successful second place finish against Division I competition at the University of Massachusetts Invitational. Mohamed Hussein ’18 finished first overall in the race with a time of 19:28. The team had similar success at its proceeding meet, the Purple Valley Invite, where they defeated Williams and other top teams with a first-place overall team finish and another first-place individual finish by Hussein. Led by powerhouses Hussein and Steven Lucey ’17, the purple and white finished first in the ECAC Championship and second in the NEICAAA Cross Country Championship, the Little Three Championship, NESCACs and NCAA Division III Northeast Regionals.

Hussein went undefeated against Division III competition until the National Championship race and earned countless honors such as NESCAC performer of the week and USTFCCA Division III Athlete of the Week. Two current members of the team, Hussein and Raymond Meijer ’17, were recognized as NESCAC All-Conference selections. Tucker Meijer ’19 was named NESCAC Rookie of the Year, and is only the third Amherst runner in history to earn the award.

The team finished 10th at the Division III National Championship, which was a disappointing finish for the fourth ranked purple and white. However, the team also finished as a USTFCCA All-Academic Team and led the NESCAC with a team GPA of 3.58. Five members of the team received individual USTFCCA All-Academic Honors (GPAs of at least 3.3 and a top quarter finish of their respective region), which included Kevin Connors ’17, Raymond Meijer, Craig Nelson ’18, Jeff Seelaus ’16 and Tucker Meijer.

The purple and white will only compete in seven meets this year, so there are fewer chances for you to catch this talented and promising team in action. The University of Massachusetts Invitational, hosted on Sept. 10 will be the nearest meet of the year, where the team will be seeking revenge against a talented UMass squad. On Sept. 24, the team hopes to retain their crown at Williams College’s Purple Valley Invitational. Amherst hopes to improve upon its 2015 second-place finishes at the NEICAAA Championship, the Little Three Championship and the NESCAC Championship, that will be hosted at Colby on Oct. 29.

This cross country season will reach its apex in November, which is the month of the NCAA Championship. The purple and white will run in the NCAA New England Regionals on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Westfield State. The season will culminate on Saturday, Nov. 19 with qualifying runners competing in Louisville, Kentucky for the national title.