Track and Field Starts Season Strong Against DI Schools

The men’s and women’s track and field teams took the 10-minute drive to cross-town foe UMass to open their outdoor season. The team built on their strong indoor season, accumulating amazing individual finishes, while being the only Division III school in attendance.

Mary Kate McGranahan ’23 exits the water jump in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Photo courtesy of Amherst Track and Field.

On Sunday, April 3, the track and field teams opened their seasons with a bang, making the short drive across town to UMass to compete in their first outdoor meet of 2022. Despite being the only Division III school in the field of Division I Massachusetts schools, Amherst more than held their own, with four Mammoths winning individual events, and the men’s and women’s teams placing third out of six and third out of seven, respectively. (On the men’s side, one jumper competed unattached.)

Men

The men’s success started in the field events, with six Mammoth competitors finishing in the top 10 of their respective events. Gabriel Dos Santos ’24 and Camden Heafitz ’25 kicked things off, finishing in podium position in the high jump with jumps of 1.85 meters (second) and 1.80 meters (third), respectively. Adrian Friedman ’24 kept the ball rolling, coming in second in long jump at 6.47 meters, while Kelechi Eziri ’23 came in second in triple jump with a jump of 13.39 meters. With sixth- and seventh-place throws of 48.44 meters and 47.90 meters, respectively, Troy Colleran ’22 and Kevin Ryu ’25 scored team points for the Mammoths in javelin.

On the track, the results were just as impressive. Henry Buren ’22 won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.03, a full 10th of a second faster than the second-place finisher, Zachary Fisher of Merrimack College. Buren also won the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.27 seconds, this time finishing almost two 10ths faster than Fisher.

Of his performance, Buren said, “To be honest, at this point of the season, I’m not concerned with winning my races … What I’m most concerned with is running a solid race and trying to implement what I’ve been working on in practice. If I happen to win, that’s just a cherry on top.”

Jack O’Hara ’25 set a personal record in the 800-meter run, with his time of 1:56.77 being a full two seconds better than his previous best. And Ben Wadsworth ’25 finished in the top three in his event, placing third in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 56.59 to round things out for Amherst.

Women

Coming off an appearance in the event at the 2022 Indoor NCAA National Championships, Julia Zacher ’25 won the high jump with a leap of 1.66 meters and finished eighth in the 100-meter hurdles in a great day for the first-year. Jordan Hecker ’25 also maintained her run of great form, setting a new school record in the pole vault at 3.40 meters (11 feet 1.75 inches) and finishing in the top five. Mia Bawendi ’24 and Payton Sorensen ’25 also finished in the top 10 in that event, and all three Mammoths recorded vaults that bested Bawendi’s old school record of 2.90 meters, which she set in 2021.

When asked about her experience this weekend and her new school record, Hecker said, “There was good energy, positivity, music, and great vibes all around. I  jumped the same height as my PR [personal record] from the indoor season, but it broke the separate outdoor record, which was really cool. I think that the whole team, and especially the pole vaulters, … work[ed] together and support[ed] each other throughout the warm-up and competition.”

The field events continued to bear fruit for the Mammoths, with Muffie Mazambani ’24 finishing fourth in her event, the long jump, with a leap of 5.21 meters on her first attempt. Mazambani also finished third in the triple jump at 11.15 meters, and teammate Anaya Thomas ’25 landed right behind her in fourth with a jump of 10.91 meters. Carolina Andrade ’24 finished fifth in the javelin with a throw of 34.49 meters. Finishing the day off with a bang, classmate Bethany Martin ’24 notched a heave of 42.73 meters in the hammer throw, also setting a new school record in the process.

Not to be outdone by their teammates, Amherst’s track competitors stood out as well. The 1,500-meter run was a highlight, with three Mammoths recording times under five minutes. Julia Schor ’25 won the event by almost three seconds, finishing with a personal-best time of 4:41.50. Fellow first-year Sylvan Wold ’25 finished in a personal-best 4:54.40, and sophomore Ally Deegan ’24 rounded out the Mammoths’ sub-five finishes with a time of 4:59.39.

In the short-distance events, Anna Madden ’22 set a new school record and personal best in the 400-meter dash, coming in third with a time of 57.36. Juanita Jaramillo ’22 also set a personal best in the event, with a time of 58.04 earning her a fifth place finish. Casie Eifrig ’25 finished in the top 10 as well, coming across the line in 1:00.39. All three also ran in the 4x400-meter relay, with Nicole Barbaro ’24 joining them to notch a second-place finish in the event with a time of 4:00.38. Amerley Lokko ’25 recorded a top-10 finish in the 100-meter dash, with her time of 12.70 earning her the seventh slot, and Ava Zielinski ’25 recorded a sixth place finish in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:19.21.

Two Mammoths finished in the top five in the 400-meter hurdles — Ava Tillman ’23 finished fourth (1:06.76) and Trinje Nydam ’24 finished right behind her in fifth (1:06.89) — and Sophie Wolmer ’23 and Sidnie Kulik ’25 finished one-two in the 5,000-meter run, with their respective times of 17:07.44 and 17:13.39 being 20 seconds faster than the third place finisher, a runner from the University of Hartford.

Looking ahead, the men’s and women’s teams are looking to build on the successes they enjoyed this weekend. “The team feels really good coming out of this meet because a lot of people had really strong — school-record strong — openings to the outdoor season,” Buren said, “so people are excited to build upon that momentum and build up on groundwork laid down [this weekend] in order to succeed at … the most important meets of the season.”

Coming up for the Mammoths is their first and only home meet of the season this Saturday, April 9. Deegan encouraged students to come show their support at the meet. “I can personally attest to the fact that hearing cheers and words of encouragement from others helps me so much during my races, and I know that is also the case for everyone else on our team as well,” she said. “It would mean so much to all of us if people came to support and contribute to that!”

The first events are set to begin at 11 a.m. on Pratt Field, and will continue throughout the day.