Paced by junior all-American co-captain Shauneen Garrahan, the women ran a strong race at Springfield, finishing third out of 41 teams and earning the chance to compete at NCAAs this weekend. Though the men, with an 11th-place finish, failed to qualify as a team, they will not be entirely without representation at the national meet: sophomore Tomas Morrissey’s exceptional performance this weekend has earned him an individual spot.
The women’s achievements came as no surprise in light of the consistently strong performances of the team members all season. “We’ve been running well and have been generally healthy as a team, so we came into the meet knowing that we were pretty set in terms of making the trip to the NCAAs,” said Head Coach Erik Nedeau. “As for the men, there were a few bright spots-Tomas, in particular, who has really stepped his running up a level.”
Since qualifying for NCAAs was almost a given, the women had been focusing their training on the upcoming meet in Ohio instead of the regional championship. Even so, four of the top-five Amherst runners earned a top-20 ranking at Springfield. Garrahan finished eighth overall in 21:58, while Kim Partee ’08 was right on her heels in ninth place. First-year star Nicole Anderson snatched 13th place and Heather Wilson ’08 just managed to crack the top 20, claiming the 19th slot. Caitlin McDermott-Murphy ’09 rounded out the scoring in 39th place. Also representing the Jeffs at Springfield were sophomore Margaret Ray and first-year Zandra Walton.
“A couple of girls had great races and that really helped us,” Nedeau said. “A couple were a little under the weather, but I think it’s better to get that out of the way here rather than have problems crop up at Nationals. Our fifth runner was only a few spots away from earning all-region honors.”
As for the even bigger race ahead, Nedeau remains confident. “We just need to go out to Ohio, treat it as just another race and do what we have been doing all season,” he said.
“Though the men’s varsity runners had been running fairly close to each other all season, there was a lot of time between runners at Springfield which left us unable to crack the top 10,” said Nedeau. “So as a team, it was a little bit of a disappointing way to finish the season because we were all capable of doing a bit more than what we did.” However, the men were all proud of Morrissey’s stellar performance. “I didn’t run well, but Tomas is the man!” exclaimed junior Rob Boley.
Finishing the five-mile course in 25:30, Morrissey crossed the line in seventh place, and even more will be expected of him next weekend. “He has the confidence that he can run with a lot of the guys that were a little ahead of him during the season,” said Nedeau. “He put himself in great position early on in the race, reacted well to everything that was going on around him, and did what he needed to do to qualify for the NCAAs. He’s ready for an even bigger race out in Ohio.”
Supporting Morrissey’s showing was junior Richard Wilson and senior co-captain David Schreiner, who snatched 48th and 51st place, respectively. Harrison Lakehomer ’09 took 71st place while Boley grabbed 95th to round out the scoring for the men. Also running for the Jeffs at the regional meet were sophomore Mike Harbus and junior Cooper Knowlton, who took 104th and 135th place, respectively.
While most of the men’s team members are looking forward to next year, the NCAA Championship at Ohio Wesleyan next Saturday looms ahead for Morrissey. But the sophomore seems to be up to the challenge. “Individually, it was my best race of the year, and I am very excited to run at Nationals this upcoming weekend,” Morrissey said. “As a team, we will have to work on performing well at the end of the season if we want to have a shot at qualifying for Nationals next year.”