Head Coach Erik Nedeau also was pleased with the performances of both the men and women. “It had been a hard week of training as we are making the transition from lots of summer miles to focusing on longer intervals and speed, and despite using the race as more of a tune-up, I thought both teams competed very well,” he said.
The finish line at the women’s race was a field of purple as the first runners came dashing in. Amherst blew the competition away, beating second-place Bates by an impressive 34 points. “Basically, the girls stomped on the competition,” said men’s team member Richard Wilson ’07.
The home team claimed five of the top six places, with Garrahan coming in first, seven seconds ahead of Springfield College runner-up Meg Young. Garrahan was followed by rookie Nicole Anderson in third, Vanessa Sochat ’09E in fourth, Heather Wilson ’08 in fifth and senior co-captain Margaret Davis in sixth. Other noteworthy performances of the day included sophomore Laura Mortimer and first-years Liz Dalton and Caitlin McDermott-Murphy, who finished 11th, 13th and 15th, respectively.
“[Saturday] was a great start to the season, and the talent and depth of our team will only become more apparent as the season progresses and our injured athletes get back to racing,” said Sochat. Starting off the season ranked fifth in the NCAA Div. III polls and with such a spectacular early showing, the future of the women’s team certainly looks rosy.
The men’s team finished a close second with 34 points, a mere eight points behind race-winner Bates’ 26 points. Sophomore Tomas Morrissey led the men, posting a second-place finish 27 seconds after champion Bobcat Dan Johnson. The other Amherst runners placing in the top 10 were Mike Harbus ’08 in fifth with a time of 27:21, Wilson in ninth with a time of 27:37 and rookie Harrison Lakehomer in 10th, just one second behind. Rounding out the rest of the top seven for the Jeffs were Cooper Knowlton ’07 in 12th, Schreiner in 15th and Robert Boley ’07 in 19th place.
Lakehomer’s performance drew words of praise from his teammates. “Harrison had a very impressive debut,” Wilson said. “I think he raced incredibly well.”
Like the women, the men’s team is looking forward to a great season after exceeding expectations at the typically low-key season opener. “It had been a high mileage week for us, so I think we were all a little tired, but all things considered we did very well,” said Schreiner.
Morrissey agreed that the men exceeded their own expectations. “The guys’ team is in a position to be more competitive than we initially thought,” he said after the race. “Even though we’ve been training through the race, nearly everyone raced well and set personal bests for this course. Next weekend we will be on a fast course at a larger meet, and it will be interesting to see how we stack up with the other Div. III teams that will be there.”
Up next for both teams is the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational on Saturday.