Amherst eked out a close victory over rival Williams at Saturday’s Connecticut College Invitational, defeating the Ephs 72-76 in a 28-team field.
While the Mammoths had bested the Ephs once before this season at the season-opening Little Three Championships, the Ephs triumphed in the teams’ second matchup at the Purple Valley Invitational, at which the Ephs placed second and Mammoths came in fourth.
This past weekend’s meet was held at Harkness Memorial State Park, the site of the 2015 New England Regional Championships.
The course was generally flat, with some gradual inclines and declines, but rain during the race made the course muddier than usual, causing difficult footing for the runners and a slower course overall.
Leading the Mammoths once again was senior captain Cosmo Brossy, who placed second overall in the 402-person field.
Brossy stayed towards the front of the race, and with one mile to go, the senior sat in third place, 15 meters behind the race leader from Williams.
Over the course of the last mile, however, Brossy surged towards the front, eventually crossing the line in second, an important finish for the team.
For his efforts, Brossy earned NESCAC player of the week honors as the top runner in the conference at the meet.
Behind Brossy, Clark Ricciardelli ’20E placed sixth overall. The two-time All-American sat back over the first half of the race, and gradually moved his way towards the front to contend with top athletes from several regions.
Next across the line was Tucker Meijer ’19 in ninth, who put together his best race of the season yet. The senior captain ran a well-executed race and was the highest placing third runner of any team in the field.
“Going into the race, we were really focused on just competing like how we knew we were capable of doing,” said Meijer. “After watching the women crush it, we were even more excited to toe the line.
“It ended up being a really good day overall, with a lot of guys setting season bests or PRs. It’s definitely an exciting step in the right direction, but we still have our eyes set on NESCACs and then on nationals,” Meijer added.
The surprise of the day was Ajay Sarathy ’21, who took the lead in the race about two miles in. The transfer from the University of Pennsylvania ultimately fell back to 22nd place but was the Mammoths’ important fourth runner across the line.
With championship season fast approaching, Sarathy’s improvement bodes well for the team’s chances.
Coming across the line as the critical fifth and final scoring runner was Matthew Bradley ’22 in 34th place.
The first year ran a consistent race from gun to tape and his finish was essential in edging out the Ephs.
Juniors Estevan Velez and Spencer Ferguson-Dryden were the Mammoths’ sixth and seventh runners, finishing 39th and 44th, respectively.
Velez is having an excellent start to his cross country season and looks to play a major factor in upcoming races for the Mammoths.
Next across the line was Braxton Schuldt ’21, placing 83rd with classmate Jamie Mazzola ’21 behind him in 131st.
Another pair of juniors was next across the line, as Ralph Skinner and Chris Stone placed 143rd and 150th, respectively.
Not far behind them was Will Merhige ’22 in 160th.
The final Mammoths in the race were Owen Daily ’22, who placed 208th, Jacob Silverman ’19 in 221st place, Billy Massey ’21 in 245th place and Lev Robertson ’22, who placed 339th.
“Today’s win was a big jump forward for our team but it was most exciting to see new faces step up and have awesome races, which made all the difference,” said Brossy.
The Mammoths were missing captain Kristian Sogaard ’19, who was unable to race due to a family commitment, but will certainly make his presence felt at the NESCAC Championships in two weekends after earning All-NESCAC honors in cross country last year.
Amherst is off until the NESCAC Championships, which will be hosted by Tufts at Franklin Park in Boston on Oct. 27.
The Mammoths seek to defend their 2017 title, at which race the entire Amherst scoring five earned All-NESCAC honors by placing in the top 14.