Women’s Cross Country Impresses with 11th-Place Finish in Strong Field
Issue   |   Tue, 09/26/2017 - 22:05
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Although the Mammoths were missing several of their top runners, the team managed to put together a strong showing.

At the Purple Valley Classic this past Saturday, Sept. 23, the Amherst women’s cross country team placed eleventh in a strong 26-team field including ten nationally ranked teams. While No. 3 MIT cruised to victory in the team competition and defending national champion SUNY Geneseo finished third, Amherst finished ahead of No. 7 Ithaca College and No. 35 University of Rochester. With the next invitational a mere six days after Purple Valley, Amherst rested a few of its top runners in anticipation of the next event.

“With three to four of our top 7 not racing, our overall team place is not at all indicative of how good we can be this season,” head coach Cassie Funke-Harris said.

The course, a full six kilometers near Mount Greylock High School, is known to be fairly challenging, with numerous hills posing a challenge for runners. Hot temperatures and high humidity made the conditions even more difficult, but the women’s team stepped up to the challenge, highlighting the strength in depth of this year’s squad.With last week’s Smith Invitational contested over the 5k distance, this race proved the first test for Amherst’s first years over the 6k distance.

“[I] was really happy with the patience [the first-years] showed in the early stages of the race and the way that they moved in the second half,” Funke-Harris said.

In the field of 286 runners, Kristin Ratliff ’20 placed 27th overall in a time of 23:29.0 over the 6k distance, slashing more than two minutes from her time last year and leading the Mammoths for the second consecutive event.

Funke-Harris said, “[Ratliff] has assumed a strong position at the front of our team, and with as many athletes as we lost to graduation, we really needed someone to step up into that role.”

Following Ratliff were first-year Olivia Polischeck ’21, who placed 53rd with a time of 24:15.5, and team captain Lela Walter ’19, who placed 72nd in a time of 24:32.2. Like Ratliff, Walter also registered significant improvement over her time from last year, lopping off 29 seconds in spite of the hotter weather. First-year Haley Greene ’21 (97th, 24:55.7) and junior Lizzie Lacy ’19 (138th, 25:36.5) rounded out the top five scoring runners for the purple and white.

Amherst returns to action this Friday, Sept. 29 at the Paul Short Invitational hosted by Lehigh University, competing against teams across all three NCAA divisions.