Men’s Cross Country Finishes Third at Purple Valley Classic
Issue   |   Tue, 09/26/2017 - 21:18

On Saturday, Sept. 23, the men’s cross country team traveled to rival Williams for the annual Purple Valley Classic. The Mammoths placed third out of 27 teams with 109 points, while SUNY Geneseo, led by individual champion Isaac Garcia-Cassani, claimed the team victory with 87 points.

Just ahead of the Mammoths was Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in second place with 95 points. Archrival and defending NESCAC Champions Williams placed fifth with 136 points.

Due to construction at Mt. Greylock High School, where Williams hosts their home meets, the course had significant changes this year.

However, the 8k race was still challenging and hilly. The competitive invitational featured five nationally ranked teams from several regions in Division III as well as international competition in McGill University from Canada.

In only his second-ever cross-country race, Clark Ricciardelli ’20E led the Mammoths with his fourth-place finish in the 324-person field. The sophomore moved up throughout the race to run his first 8k in a time of 26:12 on the hilly course.

Just behind Ricciardelli was Mo Hussein ’18, who finished in sixth place. The senior ran his first race since Division III Cross Country National Championships in 2016 and showed his fitness after injuries kept him on the sidelines for both the indoor and outdoor track seasons in 2017.

Tucker Meijer ’19 placed 14th overall to factor in as the team’s third scorer, while Spencer Ferguson-Dryden ’20 placed 27th overall and was the team’s fourth scorer. The sophomore is having a breakout cross country season, placing in the team’s top 5 in each of its first two races this year after not factoring into the team’s scoring as a first year in 2016.

The team’s fifth and final scorer was Justin Barry ’18, who placed 58th with a time of 27:42.

Rounding out the top 7 for the Mammoths were Jacob Silverman ’19 and Jack Wesley ’18, who placed 119th and 128th, respectively. Behind them was a pair of sophomores, Chris Stone and Ralph Skinner, who completed the 8k course in 28:45 and 28:50, respectively. The race was particularly impressive for Skinner, who only recently began running again after an injury.

Aaron Zambrano ’18, Braxton Schuldt ’21 and Ermias Kebede ’19 rounded out the competitors for Amherst.

It was an unusually hot weekend at Williams, which, along with illness and injuries, contributed to Billy Massey ’21, Kristian Sogaard ’19 and Estevan Velez ’20 dropping out of the race. Sogaard, an All-American in the 800, ran as part of the team’s top 7 throughout 2016.

“It was an incredible season opener on the whole,” Ferguson-Dryden said. “Everyone executed their race plans well, and we beat some key teams as a result.”

On Friday, the Mammoths will compete at the Paul Short Run, hosted by Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn. This large invitational features teams from all three NCAA divisions, and the Mammoths will compete in the Gold race, the meet’s top section.

Only ten runners will travel to Pennsylvania, as the meet only allows ten competitors per team. The Mammoths who will not compete at Paul Short will race at Westfield State the following weekend.