Track Finishes Winter Season on High Note
By Tim Butterfield '12, Staff Writer
Amherst’s indoor track teams finished their seasons during the first weekend of spring break. Competing at DePauw University in Indiana, the men tied for seventh place overall, while Amherst’s lone female representative did the school proud.

The team’s first race was the distance medley relay — an event the Jeffs have dominated all season long. Aiming to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish, the foursome of Jimmy Swanson ’10, Steve Corsello ’11, Tommy Moore ’11 and Ben Scheetz ’12 sped across the finish line in 10:05.11. The Jeffs earned fifth place for their efforts and were just 0.39 seconds from a top-three finish.

The next event involving an Amherst runner was the mile run. Junior Will Yochum, who had qualified for the final heat with a time of 4:12.79, dug deep on Saturday to clock a 4:11.31. Although Fredonia State’s Nick Guarino won the race in 4:09.99, Yochum’s second-place finish earned the Jeffs eight points toward their total of 17.

“Throughout the strategic race,” said head coach Erik Nedeau on the team’s Web site, “the junior exhibited patience that ultimately rewarded him.”

“This was one of the few races I’ve run in college where I was nervous beforehand,” said Yochum. “I knew that if I stayed in contention with the leaders I would have a shot at finishing in the top three. Even though I didn’t win, finishing in second isn’t too bad and I’m thankful for how it all turned out.”

The last competitor for Amherst was senior Dan Murner. The speedy 5k runner, who has made incredible strides of improvement all season long took fourth place in the race with a time of 14:51.01. Kyle Brady of North Central College won the race just three seconds ahead of Murner, but Murner’s performance earned a very meaningful five points for the Jeffs.

The men’s seventh-place finish marked the first time since 1999 that the team placed in the top 10 overall. The 17 points earned by this year’s squad is the most in program history at the national championships and earned it a position at the very top of the NESCAC.

“Our team’s finish is a testament to the hard work that everyone on the team has invested since the season began, back in Interterm,” said Murner. “It is also an indication of things to come as we head into outdoors looking to build on that success.”

Sophomore Melissa Sullivan flew to Indiana as Amherst’s only female qualifier for the national championships. Running a 5:01.89 mile in the preliminary heat on Friday, Sullivan earned a berth in the final event on Saturday, where she placed fourth in 4:58.23. None of the runners who trailed Sullivan broke the five-minute mark.

“Sully placed herself in excellent position for a top-three finish,” said Nedeau. “She struck and looked as if she would cross the line in third but was barely edged at the tape for a nevertheless outstanding fourth place effort in 4:58.23.”

Said Sullivan, “Despite our women’s team’s very small size, we had some of the best relays in the region, which shows the depth we have even without the numbers. Of course, indoor is only the first half of our track season, so we’ll be trying to build on the last few months during the upcoming outdoor season and hopefully have an even bigger showing at the later championship meets in May.”

All seven of Amherst’s competitors earned All-American honors in what Nedeau described as “an excellent weekend for everyone involved.”

The indoor track athletes were able to take the remainder of spring break off from training. However, the Jeffs will begin competing outdoors in just a few days, when they head to Westfield State on Saturday.

Issue 19, Submitted 2010-03-24 20:14:06