Most Recent Meet
Purple Valley Invitational
Runner of the Meet - Jack Wesley
On a picture perfect day, the men of Amherst XC headed to Williamstown on Saturday for the renowned Purple Valley Classic. It was going to be an excellent first test for the squad, as US#6 MIT, US#8 Williams, US#13 Pomona-Pitzer, US#16 SUNY Geneseo, and US#26 Middlebury would all be toeing the line in the Men’s 8k race. Though before the exciting action in the Men’s 8k we had a strong trio of Amherst guys competing in the sub-varsity 5k. Getting out well from the gun and settling in at the front of the race early on, Chris Butko, Vernon Espinoza, and Ermias Kebede all looked poised for a fast race. While competing well in the front pack, Butko lost slight contact with the leaders on the hill portion of the second mile. In the end, however, the sophomore persevered and crossed the line in 10th place and a time of17:07, which was about 50 seconds faster than his 2014 performance. Holding their own behind Butko, Vernon was next across the line in 17:44 and Ermias was just a few seconds back in 17:49. Once the 5k had concluded, we shifted our focus to a very competitive battle in the varsity 8k. Shortly after noon, we were well underway and the Amherst men were situated nicely at the front of the race. With so many competitive teams, there was an abundance of rival runners mixed in with our top 7 guys early on. At the front of the race, Mo and Dan remained composed for the first half and kept close tabs on the top runners from Williams, Pomona, and Geneseo. Behind our two leaders, Jeff Seelaus, Craig Nelson, and Raymond Meijer formed a strong pack that would work well together throughout the race. We also had another strong group of guys not too far behind that trio and it consisted of: Tucker Meijer, Kevin Connors, Steven Lucey, and Kristian Sogaard. As the race approached the 5k mark, the lead pack began to slim down and Mo started his battle with the top runners from Williams and Pomona-Pitzer. Crowley was not too far back and fighting well with Geneseo’s number-one man. Realizing that we were in a tight team battle, as Geneseo and Williams both still had a lot of bodies up front, Jeff Seelaus took charge of his group and began to fight his way to the top. Craig and Raymond hung on to Jeff until slightly after mile 4 as they crested the big hill in the back woods. At that same exact spot a few seconds before, Mo and Williams’s #1 runner dropped the top runner from Pomona and began their battle for the top spot. As they entered the final loop of the field they were neck-and-neck, but Mo pulled away for the win in the last 100m and put up a strong time of 25:16. Dan would also find himself in a similar duel over the last 150m, as he just missed taking down the top runner from Geneseo by less than a second, but he would still finish in a very respectable 5th and clock in at 25:50. After making a decisive move during the second half of the race, Jeff came home strong to secure a very valuable 8th-place finish and a time of 26:07. Rounding out the top 5, Craig Nelson was the next Amherst finisher in 12th place and a time of 26:14. While despite losing contact with Jeff and Craig, Raymond recovered well and was our 5th man in 26:19 for 16th place overall. After our top 5 crossed the line, we saw a slight gap between our 5 through 10 runners and it’s something that will certainly be a point of focus in the coming weeks. However, still only a first-year and taking on his first collegiate 8k, Tucker Meijer handled the challenging course quite well and ran 26:44 to take 35th place. Behind Tucker, Kevin Connors closed hard over the final kilometer to put up a time of 26:49 and was our 7th man in 40th place. After Kevin finished, Steven Lucey was next across the line in 27:02 for 49th place, which was well over a minute faster than what he ran last year. After getting out conservatively and moving up all throughout the race, Cosmo Brossy had a great 8k debut and finished with a time of 27:04 for 51st place. Also putting up an excellent time for his first-ever 8k, sophomore Jack Wesley was not too far off Cosmo and crossed the line in 27:11. Right behind Jack was another first-year, Kristian Sogaard who handled his first 8k well and finished in 27:12. Rounding out our top 12 runners, Peter Horton kept up his streak of strong performances and came home in a big 8k PR of 27:19. Then, following the Amherst runners across the line, came sophomores Justin Barry, Scott Nelson and Zack Grand all who finished under 28 minutes and were chased by first-year harriers Jacob Silverman and Kevin Dooley, as well as captain Cole Hawkins as the trio was separated by a mere 3 seconds. As one our team goals was for everyone to average 30 seconds or faster than their previous Purple Valley performance, we definitely accomplished that goal and most likely averaged close to a minute faster than the previous year. In regards to the team score, we found ourselves in a very tight team battle among Williams and SUNY Geneseo. Our top 5 guys certainly realized this over the second half of the race and fought for every spot until the finish. In the end, we put up 42 points and narrowly walked away with the team victory over Williams’s 45 points. While we are quite proud of our team victory over some highly ranked squads, there is a lot of work to be done over the next few weeks. We are a team that prides ourselves on our depth and we faltered a bit with significant time gaps between our 5th through 7th runners. With the upcoming weekend off, we will get back to putting some quality work and preparing for another big battle at Open New Englands on October 10th.