Facing strong competition from Williams and Wesleyan, the Amherst women’s cross country team placed third at the annual Little Three Championships, scoring 54 points as a team. Tallying a mere 33 points, Williams defeated Wesleyan (36 points) in a hard-fought battle.
Entering the meet, Williams ranked third in the New England region. Amherst and Wesleyan ranked seventh and eighth, respectively. “Hats off to the other teams, especially to Wesleyan, who had probably their best showing in the last seven or eight years,” head coach Cassie Funke-Harris said.
Amherst’s newly redesigned four-kilometer home cross country course features a large range of terrains, including sections on the soccer field, technical trails and a loop of the bird sanctuary, making for a grueling race.
Fortunately, after a brutal heat wave throughout the preseason, the temperature in the mid-60s and calm skies represented ideal weather conditions.
Due to illness and injury, only eight Mammoths competed in the 39-person field. Sophomore Olivia Polischeck paced the Mammoths with a sixth-place finish in 15:52. After placing 34th at last year’s edition of the Little Three Championships, sophomore Paige Reddington made a huge jump to secure ninth place in 16:05. Following close behind, senior captain Lela Walter (16:06) and junior Kristin Ratliff (16:11) placed 10th and 12th, respectively. In her first race as a Mammoth, first-year Francis Margaret Gehrke (16:49) placed 20th.
Sophomore Sarah Gayer (26th, 17:11), first-year Eline Laurent (27th, 17:17) and first year Julia Doubson (30th, 17:25) rounded out the competing Mammoths.
Speaking on the performances by the first years, Funke-Harris said, “I was really pleased with all of our rookies getting out there, running without nerves, and executing really well in their first collegiate races.”
“I think this race is a really good starting point for the rest of the season for us to build off of and only get even stronger,” Reddington said.
The Mammoths return to action in two weeks at the Purple Valley Classic, hosted by rival Williams. Amherst placed 11th in a 26-team field last year.