Men’s Cross Country Wins First-Ever NESCAC Title
Issue   |   Tue, 10/31/2017 - 22:55

On Saturday, the Amherst men’s cross country team continued its record-setting season, winning the NESCAC Championships for the first time in school history. The Mammoths had their best race of the season as they defeated runner-up Middlebury 35-66. Mo Hussein ’18 became a two-time NESCAC champion; his first-place time was six seconds faster than that of Conn. College’s Scott Mason.

The Mammoths entered the race as favorites after defeating Williams two weeks prior at the Little Three Championships for the first time in 29 years.

The meet was hosted by Bates at the Pineland Farms, an off campus park about 30 minutes from the Bobcats’ campus.

In the early stages of the race, Hussein stayed with the lead pack as the rest of the Mammoths got off to a more conservative start. As the race progressed, the Mammoths moved up through the 140-person field to set themselves up for a dominant victory.

The Mammoths’ top five scoring runners all garnered All-NESCAC honors, which are awarded to the race’s top-14 runners, an impressive feat given the field’s large size and competitive nature.

Hussein led the Mammoths for the second time this season, earning his second NESCAC cross country individual title in the process after first winning the race in 2015, his sophomore season. Hussein’s victory was particularly impressive, as he had been able to compete in neither indoor nor outdoor track last year due to injuries.

Clark Ricciardelli ’20E continued his stellar debut cross country season with a fourth-place finish, demonstrating his strength over the 8k distance. In the spring, at his first-ever NESCAC championship, the sophomore had placed fifth in the 5,000 meters, and he has continued to build off that finish, becoming a critical part of Amherst’s record-setting 2017 season.

Team captain Cosmo Brossy ’19 placed fifth, finishing seconds behind teammate Ricciardelli to earn his second All-NESCAC honor after placing eighth last year at the championship meet as a sophomore.

In the best cross country race of his life thus far, Kristian Sogaard ’19 placed 11th overall also earning All-NESCAC honors. This was only the junior’s second time placing in the team’s top-five. Sogaard used his All-American 800-meter speed over the final 200 meters of the race, allowing him to pass several runners and claim 11th.

The final scoring runner for the Mammoths was Tucker Meijer ’19, who placed 14th to earn the final All-NESCAC spot. As a first-year in 2015, Meijer finished 35th to earn NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors and, this year, improved upon his finish to seal Amherst’s first ever NESCAC Championship.

This year, the NESCAC allowed teams to enter their top-15 runners for the first time, as only teams’ top-12 runners had been able to toe the line in the past. For the Mammoths, this rule change gave several runners valuable experience.

The Mammoths are currently ranked sixth in the nation in Division III, and the team will return to competition when it travels to the University of Southern Maine on Saturday, Nov. 11 for the NCAA DIII New England Regional Championship. Amherst aims to claim one of the two automatic spots for the NCAA DIII meet that are reserved for the first- and second-place finishers at the meet. The Mammoths will be challenged by their NESCAC foes as well as MIT, which won its conference championship this past weekend as well.