This past weekend, the Amherst men’s cross country team embarked upon its annual trip to the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, at which it placed 14th in the Open Race and 22nd in the Gold Race. Meet organizers limit the number of competitors for each team to 10 runners in the Gold Race, so the remaining 10 Amherst harriers competed in the Open Race.
The Paul Short Run is the largest collegiate cross country meet in the nation, drawing teams from around the nation to Lehigh University for the annual meet. This year, the 8k course ran slower than in years past, as recent rain made the grass muddier than usual.
The day began with the men’s open race, where the first Mammoth across the line was Billy Massey ’21, claiming 78th in his first race of the cross country season. Massey specializes in long-distance track events, and a strong spring track campaign seems to have prepared him well for this season.
“It was good to bust the rust, and the course was pretty slippery,” Massey said. “The training I’ve done in the recent weeks has been very effective.”
Senior Jack Malague crossed the finish line in 116th place, sprinting past several runners in the final straight-away.
First-year Majd Rouhana wasn’t far behind Malague, placing 126th, while the sophomore duo of Chris Stone and Ralph Skinner took 148th and 176th, respectively.
To round out the Amherst harriers in the event, first-year Will Merhige made his Amherst debut, crossing the line just three seconds behind Skinner to finish 178th, while Jacob Silverman ’19 was the team’s seventh runner in 234th place. Owen Daily ’21 took 246th and fellow first-year Lev Robertson was 313th. Ermias Kebede was the final Mammoth across the line in the Open race, placing 380th.
In the Gold Race, the Mammoths competed in a field of mostly Division I teams, placing 22nd overall and fifth among Division III schools. Sitting in 38th place at the one-mile mark, the Amherst harriers worked together on the back half of the course to climb through the field of experienced runners, finishing ahead of 16 Division I teams.
Senior Cosmo Brossy had his best race on the trails yet, placing 41st in the 359-runner field as the third Division III runner across the line. Brossy crossed the line just ahead of Clark Ricciardelli ’20E who placed 50th with a time of 25:15. While the duo ran slower times than they did on this course last year, with the mud played a significant factor, they both improved their finishing places by more than 50 runners. Brossy and Ricciardelli also passed an astounding 217 and 227 runners, respectively, from the one-mile mark to the finish line, demonstrating the Mammoths’ well-thought out game plan.
Tucker Meijer ’19 ran a great race as well, crossing the line in 112th place, while Braxton Schuldt ’21 was the team’s surprise fourth runner, Amherst’s the team’s scoring top five for the first time, placing 203rd.
Spencer Ferguson-Dryden ’20 was the team’s fifth runner, placing 204th to round out Amherst’s scoring. Estevan Velez ’20 made his season debut and just missed registering points for Amherst, placing right behind Ferguson-Dryden in 205th.
“It was definitely nice to be back on the course and racing for the team, and I’m happy to get my rust buster out of the way and I’m looking forward to races in the future,” said Velez. “We certainly have a lot to build with, but a long way to go.”
The next three harriers across the line for the Mammoths finished close together, as Matthew Bradley ’22 was 284th, and Kristian Sogaard ’19 and Ajay Sarathy ’21 were 286th and 287th, respectively. The final Mammoth in the race was Jamie Mazzola ’21, who placed 354th.
The Mammoths will take fall break off and return to action on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Conn. College Invitational, which will feature the top Division III programs from the East Coast, as teams seek to accumulate points for an at-large bid to nationals. This will be Amherst’s last regular season meet before the championship season begins with the NESCAC Championships on Saturday, Oct. 27.