The Amherst College women's cross country team enters the 2017 season looking to build on the momentum of a strong 2016 that saw the Mammoths place fifth overall at the NESCAC Championships and seventh overall in NCAA New England Regional competition.
The Mammoths will have to contend with the loss of seven accomplished student-athletes to graduation, but return a capable core of 13 returners – including three seniors, four juniors and six sophomores – in addition to welcoming five newcomers.
"This year, we're a very young group, both in terms of age and experience," commented sixth year head coach Cassie Funke-Harris. "We graduated four of our top seven and All-American Katherine Treanor transferred to Division I Brown University, so there is a lot of room for athletes to step up and contribute in a way that they haven't in the past."
MEET THE TEAM
Making their mark on the trails of New England a season ago, Nicky Roberts '18 and Veronica Rocco '19 are set to once again to be crucial components for Amherst. Finishing 2016 in impressive fashion, Roberts took 21st overall at the NESCACs with a time of 23:40.96, before shaving more than a minute off her time to clock a 22:06.50 mark and finish second on the team and 28th overall at the NCAA Regionals. Placing 52nd overall, Rocco was right behind Roberts at the Regionals, clinching a 6k time of 22:30.16.
Lizzie Lacy '19, Lela Walter '19, Sylvia Frank '20 and Kristin Ratliff '20 add experience and depth to the Mammoth roster, with all four student-athletes lacing up for the NESCAC Championship last season. Registering her best time of the year at the league meet, Lacy claimed a 25:31.51 mark, while Walter and Frank's fastest marks of 23:53 and 24:21, respectively, were recorded at the Paul Short Invite. Excelling at the James Early Invitational, Ratliff's 6-kilometer time of 25:03.23 constituted a collegiate-best.
Primed to make significant strides after a solid rookie campaign, Amy Pass '20 aims to build on her 22:12 5k time at the UMASS Invite and 27:00.35 6k mark at the James Earley Invite, while Jenny Mazzella '20 looks ready to improve on her 21:49 5k mark.
In three races last fall, Monica Nimmagadda '18 logged strong performances for the Mammoths, boasting 5k marks of 21:37 and 21:34.70 and a 6k time of 24:33.73 at the James Earley Invite.
Helen Clapp '18, Maya Bhandari '20, and Gabrielle Doran '19 round out Amherst's returners, with all three harriers poised to make positive contributions on the scorecard.
"I'm excited about the work that this group put in over the summer," said Funke-Harris. "They came in prepared for the start of the season and ready to train hard, so I'm looking forward to seeing where that takes us and how the group develops over the course of the season."
The Mammoths open the 2017 season on Saturday, Sept. 9, when they travel to nearby Smith College for the Smith Invitational at 10 a.m. Two weeks later, Amherst competes at the Purple Valley Classic at Williams (9/23), before closing out September with the Paul Short Classic at Lehigh University (9/29).
Taking to the trails three times in October, the Mammoths run in the James Earley Invitational at Westfield State on Oct. 7 before gearing up for the Little III Championships at Williams on Oct. 14 and the NESCAC Championships at Bates on Oct. 28.
The cross country season concludes in November, with the New England Regionals slated for Nov. 11 and the NCAA Division III Championships scheduled for Nov. 18.
Not yet a member of the Friends of Amherst Women's Cross Country for the 2017-18 year? Become a first-time member of or renew your membership in the FAA and support Coach Funke-Harris and the women's cross country program. Make a gift ahead of the team's first meet of the season, the Smith Invitational, on Saturday, Sept. 9. Go Mammoths!