On Saturday, Sept. 25, the field hockey team defended their 2019 trophy to become back-to-back winners of Amherst’s time-honored Bruce Bogtrotter cake-eating competition.
Every year, the women’s athletics teams gather for a tradition unlike any other, an everlasting relic of Roald Dahl’s 1988 classic novel, “Matilda,” where Miss Trunchbull forces the ill-fated Bruce Bogtrotter to eat an entire 18-inch cake in front of the whole school.
Take that timeless scene, add a bit of competitive flare and western Massachusetts ethos to the mix, and there you’ll find the Amherst College rendition of Bruce Bogtrotter’s humiliating punishment.
The ice hockey team organizes the event every year, setting rules that are harsh, yet concise. Each team designates four cake-eaters, who pair up and eat together in three-minute intervals. The pairs alternate until the entire cake is gone, although one “celebrity” eater can be subbed in at any point for one minute of eating.
Headed into the competition, the field hockey team’s confidence was on full display. The team was led by Beth Williamson ’23E, Sarah Edelson ’23, Muffie Mazambani ’24 and Charlotte Domittner ’25. Field hockey’s dynasty can be partly attributed to their high Bruce Bogtrotter IQ, as the team pours water on the cake to make it more digestible. “With two veteran eaters and a set strategy, we were well-prepared to defend our title,” Edelson said.
Marie Fagan ’22, captain of the women’s swim and dive team, has participated in the competition since her first year on campus. “I’ve never done anything like speed eating in my life, but the energy of Bruce Bogtrotter is off the charts. As female athletes, we truly get to lean into our competitive energy while building real support across women’s athletics. I feel like garbage afterwards every year, but the love and energy from my team and other teams is healing,” Fagan commented.
Field hockey’s dominance began as soon as the competition began. Zoe Levin ’23, an eater for the women’s crew team just one table away from field hockey, was shocked at the voracity demonstrated by the four eaters to her left. “I’ve never seen anyone consume anything that quickly. I was bewildered and amazed all at once,” Levin emphasized.
The ice hockey and basketball teams fought valiantly, finishing in a dead-tie for second place, with swim and dive following closely behind.
A number of people, however, were skeptical of field hockey’s superiority. One anonymous source claimed to see cake thrown under the table.
“I can neither confirm nor deny any shenanigans, but I will say field hockey finished suspiciously ahead of everyone else … I know they’re undefeated and all, but we might have to keep our eyes on them,” another anonymous source said.
When The Student approached the field hockey team about the cheating allegations, Gwen Allen ’23, an eater for the 2019 winning squad, responded bluntly. “Grow up,” Allen said.
The volleyball team was unable to compete due to a Saturday match in Vermont, but defensive specialist Makaela Weeda ’22, a member of volleyball’s 2018 cake-eating championship crew, backed field hockey’s integrity. “People always accuse the winning team of cheating,” Weeda said, “When we won my freshman year, we had to face the same allegations.”
After the competition, those who compete suffer a fate similar to Roald Dahl’s Bruce Bogtrotter. “I felt like I had sugar coursing through my veins all night,” Mary Kate McGranahan ’23, a long-distance runner on the track team said.
Katie Hadro ’23, an attacker on the lacrosse team who is dairy and gluten-free, told The Student that this would be her last time competing in the race. “There is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of shoving handfuls of watered down cake and sharing the whole experience with my best friends. To put all that work in and not come out on top was a little bit disheartening. I didn't [want to] puke for an hour afterwards for nothing. But that’s competition and that’s life, we’ll get 'em next time … And by we I mean other people on our team because I will never do that again,” Hadro said.
In 2022, field hockey will look to build on their winning streak, aiming for an immaculate three-peat which would memorialize the team in Bruce Bogtrotter history forever. “The field hockey team was ecstatic but not surprised by our two-peat. We look forward to continuing our reign next year,” Edelson said.