Track and Field Finds Success Early in Season

Amherst track and field won the Middlebury Winterfell, qualified athletes for the New England Championships, and watched school records fall in their first three meets of the indoor season.

Track and Field Finds Success Early in Season
Wilson Spurrell '24E and Kolya Markov-Riss '24 sprint to finish the 800 meter run at the Tufts Cupid Challenge.

Amherst track and field found success on both the team and individual levels during the January term. Both the men’s and women’s teams qualified a number of athletes for the New England Championships. Both squads also claimed first place overall in the Middlebury Winterfell.

On Jan. 15, Amherst, Williams, and Wesleyan met in Middletown, Conn., for the annual Little Three Championships. With all three teams depleted by Covid-19 protocols, there was no team scoring at the event, and thus no team was declared champion. Individual competition continued, though, giving the Mammoths a chance to compete in their first indoor meet in almost two years.

Kolya Markov-Riss ’24 took first in the men’s 600-meter. His time qualified him for the New England Championships at the end of the month, along with Charlie Clary ’24 and Jack O’Hara ’25, who came in a few seconds behind.

First years dominated the longer events for the women’s team. Julia Schor ’25 won the 800 in her track debut. Less than a second behind her was fellow first year Ava Zielinski ’25, who came third. Sidnie Kulik ’25 won the 3,000-meter race by almost 17 seconds. All three will be running at New Englands.

The men found success in the distance events, too. Wilson Spurrell ’24 came second in the 800-meter; Nick Edwards-Levin ’25 (Managing Sports Editor) came third in the mile; and Ajay Sarathy ’22 won the 3000-meter contest by more than eight seconds. All three qualified for New Englands.

In the pole vault, Troy Colleran ’22 claimed second place for the men, breaking a 44-year school record in the process. He cleared 4.6 meters — more than 15 feet, roughly the equivalent of Shaquille O’Neal standing on Yao Ming’s shoulders. Jordan Hecker ’25 and Mia Bawendi ’24 qualified for New Englands in the women’s event.

Julia Zacher ’25 took first place and qualified in the high jump with a mark of 1.62 meters, or around 5 feet 4 inches — 4 inches higher than her closest competitor. Fellow first year Eliza Cardwell ’25 won the long jump, qualifying alongside Muffie Mazambani ’24 and Samantha Tichelaar ’22.

The success continued into the following weekend, as the Mammoths headed north to the Middlebury Winterfell in Vermont on Jan. 22. The women finished first in a field of 10, while the men came first of nine. Both fields included a Division I program — the University of Vermont.

The men’s team qualified 11 new athletes for New Englands. Henry Buren ’22 took first in the men’s 60-meter. Adding to his qualification in the 800-meter the week before, Spurrell came second in the 600; he will race in both events at the end of the month.

Owen Daily ’23 won the mile. Keon Mazdisnian ’23 came just milliseconds ahead of Theo Dassin ’24 in the 5,000 — both will run at New Englands. Colleran and Jack Trent ’23 qualified in the 60-meter hurdles.

The Mammoths dominated the jumping events. Camden Heafitz ’25 edged out Colleran in the high jump. The two will compete at New Englands — the third event in which Colleran has qualified. Chris Gong ’23 won the long jump, jumping more than 22 feet; Kelechi Eziri ’23 took the triple jump.

The women continued their dominance in the longer events in Vermont. Anna Madden ’22, Casie Eifrig ’25, and Juanita Jaramillo ’22 finished first, second, and fourth respectively in the 400-meter. All three runners got under the one-minute mark and qualified. Repeating the pattern, Katie Lingen ’22, Zielinsky, and Ava Tillman ’23 came first, second, and fourth in the 600-meter, all qualifying. Schor placed second in the 1,000-meter, adding a second New Englands qualification. Margo Pedersen ’25, three seconds behind her, qualified as well. Sophia Wolmer ’23 (Editor-at-Large) and Mary Kate McGranahan ’23 came first and third in the 5,000-meter.

Cardwell added a first-place in the 60-meter hurdles and a third in the triple jump to her long-jump success the week before. Eve Giancarlo ’25 came second in the pole vault, breaking the school record with a height of 3.4 meters, or more than 11 feet.

At the Tufts Cupid Challenge, held Feb. 4-5, the Mammoths saw much tougher competition. Nonetheless, they enjoyed another flurry of New Englands qualifications and personal bests.

It was another successful weekend for the middle-distance trio of Madden, Jaramillo, and Eifrig, who came second, third, and fourth in the 400-meter. Lingren joined them for the 4x400 relay; the quartet paced the field, posting a time of 3:59.22. Cardwell improved on her triple jump mark from the week before, covering 18 feet, 3 inches — good for third place and qualification.

In the longer events, Wolmer took third in the 3,000. She ran a little under 1.9 miles — what is roughly the distance between Amherst College and the massive skyscraper library at UMass — in 10:13.39. The time qualified her for New Englands. Sylvan Wold ’25 ran the 1,000 meters in 3:08.05, good for fourth place and a New Englands bid.

The event saw Amherst’s pentathletes compete for the first time this season. Trinteje Nydam ’24 came second, with a combined score of 2,866. Annelise Romero ’23 posted a score of 2,309. Romero won the shot put within the heptathlon — she threw the 8.8-pound ball 30 feet, 5 inches.

For the men, Buren qualified in the 200-meter, with a time of 22.81, good for third. Spurrell claimed victory in the 800-meter, running a 1:58.01, his collegiate best and first win as a Mammoth. Markov-Riss added a second New Englands qualification in that event, finishing a half second behind Spurrell in fourth.

The 1,000-meter saw a whole slate of mammoths qualify for New Englands: Aydin Williams ’23, Gent Malushaga ’25, Alexander Rich ’25, and Robert Innes-Gold ’22. Sarathy picked up another qualification, running the 5,000 meters in 14:58.47 — a personal best. Dassin and Oliver Spiva ’24 qualified in the 3,000, finishing sixth and eighth, respectively.

Eziri picked up a second-straight triple-jump victory and added the long jump to his New Englands schedule, posting a personal-best 6.57 meters. He finished seventh overall.

Alex Robin ’25 cleared 4.15 meters in the pole vault — good for sixth place and a berth at New Englands.

Perhaps the highlight of the event for the men was the heptathlon. Reigning New England Champion in the heptathlon, Colleran added to early-season success, winning the seven-part event. His score of 4,952 was one of the 10 best Division III performances of the year. Trent finished behind him overall but won the 60-meter hurdles. A personal-best 4,444 points for Trent earned him qualification.

The Mammoths have just two regular-season meets remaining in the 2022 indoor season. They are set to make a second trip to Vermont this coming Saturday, Feb. 12, for the Middlebury Field and Track Meet, before the Ruddy Invitational at Bowdoin on Feb. 19. Amherst athletes have just two more chances to punch their tickets to New Englands, which will also be held at Middlebury on Feb. 26 — after that, Nationals awaits in early March.