Cross Country Continues Strong Fall at Williams
Issue   |   Tue, 10/01/2013 - 23:48

Amherst men’s cross country travelled to Williamstown this past weekend for the Purple Valley Classic. Amherst placed seventh overall out of thirteen teams at the race. MIT placed first (41) followed by Williams (59) and Middlebury (60).

Dan Crowley ‘16 led the Jeffs with a 5:35 mile pace that carried him to the finish line of the 8K course in 27:41.10. Crowley was closely followed by KC Fussell ’15 with a time of 27:44.00 and senior captain Gus Greenstein, who crossed the line seven seconds behind Fussell. Crowley and Fussell were also major contributors in the team’s first meet of the season at UMass where the two placed fourth and ninth, respectively.

Charlie Reighard ’14 (28:03.00) also scored for the Jeffs, finishing three seconds ahead of Alvaro Morales ’14 (28:06.00). Other top finishers for Amherst this weekend were Jeff Seelaus ’16 (28:18.40) and Romey Sklar ’15 (28:36.80).

Senior captain Charlie Reighard noted how the team was not so concerned with their times and how they finished this weekend. They treated the race more as a workout than a must-win race, since the goal is for the team to reach their peak at the end of the season when it counts the most.

“We gave the guys a strategy to employ within the race that would give them a solid effort, focus on working together and finishing the last part of the race hard while at the same time, not going all out for three weekends in a row,” Coach Erik “Ned” Nedeau said. “I thought that the guys did a great job of accomplishing the goals for the meet — they stuck to the plan extremely well, facing a little bit of competition without having it be a racing type effort, and this sets us up very nicely for a solid week of training and the bigger meets that are on the horizon.”

The Purple Valley Classic is a stepping stone in the Jeffs’ season on their path to success. When the team returns to action for the NEICAAA meet on Saturday, Oct. 12, the result will be more meaningful for their season.

“Open New England’s will be a good indicator of what we can do this year since all of the other teams in the NESCAC will be competing, and we should hopefully be back at full strength in terms of injured runners,” Nedeau said. “From here on out, the meets that we will be competing in will be hard, fight-to-the-end type of efforts, and they know that and will be prepared for it.”

The Amherst women’s cross country team finished fourth out of the thirteen teams in the Purple Valley Classic in Williamstown this past weekend. Middlebury came out on top with 38 points. MIT and Williams rounded out the top three with 43 and 46 points respectively, while Amherst tied Colby (133 points) for fourth.

Savanna Gornisiewicz ’17 led Amherst, continuing her strong first-year campaign placing 25th out of 159 runners with a time of 23:38.7. Gornisiewicz was closely followed by Lizzy Briskin ’15 whose 23:45.8 finish notched her 29th overall. Lexi Sinclair ’16 finished third for the Jeffs, posting a time of 23:46.6. Sophie Currin ’17 finished hard, and came in just behind Sinclair as she posted the quickest pace on the team for the final 1200 meters of the 6K race.

The Jeffs had a very successful weekend with many runners drastically improving on times they had posted on the Williams course previously. Three of Amherst’s top seven finishers, Betsy Black ’16, Amy Dao ’14 and Jessica Kalisk ’15, improved from last year’s event. A number of other runners also improved: Lindsay Ewing ’15 decreased her time by 47 seconds, while Brooke Kirkham ’14 and Rachel Duong ’16 shaved off 57 and 70 seconds, respectively, from their times.

Coach Cassie Funke-Harris was especially impressed with these runners’ performances.

“There were a few people who had exceptionally great races,” she said. “I was also especially impressed with the finishing speed of freshman Sophie Currin and senior Amy Dao. They really left it all on the course at the end, and that’s what we are going to need from every single person on the team if we’re going to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves.”

Despite being pleased with her runners’ solid outings this time around, Funke-Harris understands the hard work that lies ahead.

“Our region is exceptionally strong this year, which means we will have to bring our absolute best performance to NESCACs and regionals if we want to qualify for nationals (something we set our sights on each year). We’ve had two weeks of really great workouts, so I know the fitness is there. We just need to be more inspired in our racing and bring it all together.”

Junior captain Lizzy Briskin was happy with her team’s improvement across the board.

“This was the first 6K for all of the first-years and a few of the sophomores, and I was very happy with how well everyone finished regardless of their experience with 6K’s or the course itself,” Briskin said. “We were happy with our team’s performance, tying with Colby, our major competitor in the race.”

The women’s cross country team will return to action for the NEICAAA meet on Saturday, Oct. 12 at home.