The Amherst women’s cross country team traveled to Mount Greylock High School this past Saturday to compete at the Purple Valley Classic, hosted by rival Williams. With a score of 179 points, the women placed eighth in a 13-team field. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (67 points) defeated Williams (81 points) and Tufts (114 points) to secure the team victory.
The Mammoths moved up in distance from the Little Three Championships’ four-kilometer course, racing over a challenging six-kilometer course. In addition, the eight Amherst harriers responded admirably to the challenge of navigating a 129 person field.
“I thought the women did a great job of finding one another and working together on the course,” coach Cassie Funke-Harris said. “They could have easily become eight purple jerseys each running on her own, but there was a lot of cooperation and teamwork.”
Leading Amherst with a time of 23:15, junior Kristin Ratliff placed 10th in a loaded field featuring several nationally-ranked runners. Senior captain Lela Walter (23:27) and sophomore Olivia Polischeck (23:45) followed in 15th and 26th place, respectively.
Sophomore Sarah Gayer (24:48) was next across the line, placing 63rd. In her first-ever 6k, first year Julia Doubson ran the course in 25:26 to finish in 86th overall, rounding out the scoring Mammoths. Close behind, sophomore Paige Reddington (25:29) placed 91st. In their season debuts, juniors Jenny Mazzella (25:59) and Olivia Moehl (26:31) finished in 109th and 115th, respectively.
After the race, Funke-Harris noted the importance of having a full squad to compete. “The biggest thing is that we need to get healthy and stay healthy,” she said. “We had a few injuries and illnesses hanging around this week, and we are hoping to be closer to full strength as the season goes on.”
“Overall, there were a lot of good performances at a really big meet against some strong teams,” Ratliff added. “Even though we had a small group, we went out there and had a good showing.”
Amherst will travel to Lehigh University this weekend to compete at the Paul Short Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 29. In this annual meet, the women will compete against teams from across all three NCAA divisions, thus providing an excellent test of the Mammoths’ depth and quality.