On Friday, Feb. 18 and Saturday, Feb. 19, members of the men’s and women’s track and field team competed in their final regular season meet of the season at the Ruddy Invitational in Brunswick, Maine. Multiple strong individual performances brought the number of Amherst athletes who have qualified for the New England Championships next weekend up to 53, a school record. The women’s team will travel to Colby, while the men’s team are headed to Middlebury.
Athletes on the women’s team won four events over the course of the weekend. Three first-years won individual events, earning the marks needed to qualify them for next weekend’s meet. On Friday night, Annelise Romero ’23 started the meet off on a high note for the Mammoths, as she won the pentathlon with a score of 2,811. Ava Zielinski ’25 won the 800-meter, Sophia Price ’25 took first in the 3,000-meter, and Sidnie Kulik ’25 came in on top in the mile, running a blazing-fast 5:08.37.
According to Zielinski, the success of the team was fostered by the positive environment the teammates created for each other. “We competed with determination and everyone was super supportive of one another throughout the whole meet,” she said. “Tons of people also got personal bests or are now really close to their high school [personal records].”
Zielinski received her best collegiate time for the 800-meter, 2:18.15, in her first college win. Price’s time for the 3,000-meter, 10:37.61, was also her fastest collegiate race. Not to be outdone by her teammates, Kulik has also had an outstanding indoor season, winning all three races that she entered.
Continuing the Mammoths’ success, vaulter Payton Sorensen ’25 cleared the pole at 3.10 meters, earning her fourth place and qualifying her for New Englands. Teammate Eve Giancarlo ’25 finished just in front of Sorensen, also clearing 3.10 meters.
Junior Sierra Donovan ’23 came in behind Zielinski in the 800-meter, qualifying for New Englands with her personal-best time, 2:23.44.
Especially noteworthy was the Mammoths’ success in the 60-meter hurdles. Anaya Thomas ’25 qualified for New Englands as she earned a time of 9.58 in a fast field, a personal best. Sophomore Nicole Barbaro ’24 also claimed a spot at New Englands in the 600-meter run with a time of 1:40.96.
The men’s team had a successful competition as well, with highlights including Owen Daily ’23 winning the mile, Kolya Markov-Riss ’24 capturing the 600-meter, and Wilson Spurrell ’24 coming in on top in the 800-meter.
Like the 60-meter dash for the women’s team, one of the men’s team’s races featured impressive performances from all its runners. In their case, it was the mile, where the Mammoths clinched five out of the six top spots. Daily came in first in 4:20.15, followed by senior Billy Massey ’22, who finished in a season best 4:21.55. Theo Dassin ’24 made his first collegiate start in the event, yet still managed to place third. Alex Rich ’25 finished fifth for the Mammoths with another collegiate-best time of 4:23.54. Will Merhige ’23 finished sixth, also with a personal record, 4:23.81. These Mammoths will all be competing in next weekend’s championships.
Many other events saw collegiate bests from the Mammoths as well. Markov-Riss won the 600-meter with a personal best time of 1:22.95. Keon Mazdisnian ’23 also notched a personal best in the 3,000-meter, coming in second place for that race by crossing the line in 8:43.44. Spurrell recorded one in the 800-meter at 1:55.63, and Gent Malushaga ’25 crossed in a collegiate-best 2:34.73 in the 1,000 meter.
To round out the New England qualifiers for the Mammoths, Ian Dopp ’24 ran a qualifying time of 2:38.47 in the 1,000 meter, and David Brown ’25 also earned a spot in the shot put with a throw of 14.00 meters, placing him third.
“I think the team competed extremely well this weekend,” Rich said. “While the team faced limited competition, many people were still able to qualify for DIII New Englands.”
The Mammoths will continue their season with the Division III New England Regional Championships next weekend, Feb. 25-26, with the women competing at Colby and the men at Middlebury. They will then look toward nationals, where several members of the team have already qualified to compete.
“As we near the end of indoor season, I’m looking forward to seeing and supporting our teammates who will compete at nationals,” said Zielinski. “I am also excited for our transition to the outdoor season where we can build on the foundation we’ve set for ourselves this winter.”