Men’s Cross Country Finishes Sixth at National Championships

Men’s Cross Country Finishes Sixth at National Championships

Entering the Division III Cross Country National Championships, the Mammoths were ranked eighth in the nation after their dominating victory at the New England regional meet. On Saturday, Nov. 17, Amherst outpaced its ranking to place sixth with 253 points in a deep field, defeating Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Calvin College and Carnegie Mellon University, each of which was ranked ahead of the Mammoths. The favorite, North Central College, enjoyed a dominating 67 point victory over Washington University in St. Louis for a third consecutive national title.

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh hosted the meet at the Lake Breeze Golf Club, which served as the site of the 2015 national championship meet. The course lent itself to fast times with no major hills and firm grass due to cold temperatures.

At this meet last year, the Mammoths placed fourth, finishing on the podium for the first time in program history. In the 2017 meet, Amherst accrued 251 points, just two points ahead of this year’s mark.

The Mammoths employed their usual tactic of working their way up throughout the race at the 2.3 kilometer mark, and as such they were in 29th place of 32 teams. By the five kilometer mark, though, they were 10th and held the position of sixth from 7.1 kilometers on, dropping an impressive 42 points in the final 900 meters of the eight kilometer race.

In the early stages of the race, Clark Ricciardelli ’20E, Cosmo Brossy ’19, Tucker Meijer ’19 and Ajay Sarathy ’21 worked together, coming across the three kilometer mark around 150th place. Fifth runner Estevan Velez ’20 was 10 seconds behind them in 221st, and Matthew Bradley ’22 and Kristian Sogaard ’19 weren’t far behind him.

As the race progressed, the group of Ricciardelli, Brossy, Meijer and Sarathy worked their way through the 280-person field together, before dropping Sarathy and Meijer at the 5.6 kilometer point in the race. In the final 2.4 kilometers of the race, Ricciardelli had a fantastic finish, going from 60th place to 25th place to earn All-American honors for the third time in his career and the second time in cross country.

Brossy came across the finish line in 51st place, and Meijer and Sarathy were only two seconds apart in 71st and 74th place, respectively. Velez had a stellar last 900 meters of the race, passing 40 runners to place 130th and seal the team’s sixth place finish.

Bradley placed 225th, while Sogaard took 226th to round out his cross country career as a Mammoth.

“I think we’re all a little disappointed in being edged off the podium this year, but at the end of the day I think we still have a lot to be proud of,” Ricciardelli said. “Everyone moved up incredibly well over the course of the race, and we did the best with what we had that day.”

Teammates Braxton Schuldt ’21, Spencer Ferguson-Dryden ’20, who competed at regionals, and Billy Massey ’21, the team’s fifth runner at the NESCAC Championships, who was unable to compete due to injury, all travelled with the team to Wisconsin. The Mammoths were also cheered on by several other teammates and alumni who drove to Wisconsin to watch Amherst compete.

2018 marked the men’s cross country team’s fifth consecutive appearance at nationals, during which the Mammoths have placed in the top-11 each year. Next year, the Mammoths return Ricciardelli, Sarathy, Velez, Bradley, Schuldt, Ferguson-Dryden and Massey, along with a quickly developing strong core of underclassmen.