Cross Country Team Runs Toe-to-Toe With Division I

On Saturday, Sept. 11, the men’s and women’s cross country teams made their 2021 debuts at the UMass Amherst Ken O’Brien Minuteman Invitational. The teams delivered impressive performances against Division I foes.

On Saturday, Sept. 11, the men’s and women’s cross country teams made their 2021 debuts just down the road at the UMass Amherst Ken O’Brien Minuteman Invitational.

The meet consisted of six teams: University of Connecticut, Boston College, UMass Amherst, Sacred Heart University and Boston University (BU), with Amherst College competing as the only Division III program. Connecticut and Boston College only competed in the women’s event.

Nevertheless, both the men’s and women’s teams raced step-in-step alongside their Division I competitors.

On the men’s side, a total of 57 athletes competed in a 6,200-meter contest, which is shorter than the team’s usual 8,000-meter races. As a team, Amherst finished third out of the four competitors, with an average time of 20:15. UMass Amherst took the top spot, with BU in second and Sacred Heart coming in last.

Individually, Mammoth runners ended up placing from top-to-bottom on the leaderboard. Co-captain Billy Massey ’22 led the way, finishing in seventh place overall with a time of 19:46. He was followed by co-captain Owen Daily ’23 in 18th, Oliver Spiva ’24 in 22nd and Nick Edwards-Levin ’25 in 23rd. Overall, 14 Mammoth runners competed in the event.

Keon Mazdisnian ’23, who finished 26th with a time of 20:34, praised his team’s success despite the difficult conditions of the race. “Really good performance on a really challenging course. Billy [Massey] had a great race leading us throughout the day. It was also 6,200 [meters,] which is shorter than we are used to running, so it’s good tune up for the longer races this season”

Placing 34th in 21:16, Luke Munch ’25 conveyed the excitement of racing for the first time on the collegiate level. "The atmosphere was electric. Lining up with the boys for the first time was a surreal experience. I couldn't have imagined a better way to start the season," he remarked.

The women’s team, led by strong performances from first-years Sidnie Kulik ’25 and Julia Schor ’25, finished in fifth place out of the six teams in the 5,000-meter competition.

Out of 82 total competitors, three Mammoths finished in the top-half of the women’s scoresheet. Kulik earned a 15th place finish with a time of 18:05, Schor placed in 29th after crossing the finish line in 18:37 and Mary Kate McGranahan ’23 followed seconds behind, finishining in 34th with a time of 18:48.

McGranahan emphasized the strength of the team’s performance. “We held our own very well against strong Division I programs [...] Julia [Schor] and Sidnie [Kulik] really showed up strong just like we thought they would. [It was a] great rust buster for everyone, and people are focused on [the Little III Invitational]  next week. Overall, it was all smiles all around just to be out [running] again,” she said.

Both cross country teams will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 18th at Williams for the Little III Invitational.