Jeffs Look to Build on Last Year's NCAA Regional Title
Will Yochum returns to the Amherst squad as the reigning NESCAC Rookie of the Year.
After winning the Amherst Invitational to kick start the 2007 season, the Lord Jeffs placed fourth in a field of 31 teams at the UMass-Dartmouth Invite and second in a field of 10 at the Williams College Purple Valley Classic. In the first race of October, Amherst went up against schools from Divisions I, II and III at the Open New England Championships, taking home an eighth place finish to mark the best result in program history. The Jeffs kept rolling and tied the program mark for best finish at the NESCAC Championships (2nd) before placing sixth at the ECAC Championships despite resting their top seven runners.
Amherst brought the men’s program to new heights the following week, as the Jeffs edged the rival Ephs by one point to claim the program’s first ever NCAA Regional Championship title and automatically qualify for a shot at a national title. Although Amherst could not secure another championship, the Jeffs took another step in the right direction with a 12th place showing, just four points behind Williams and well ahead of the rest of the NESCAC schools.
Amherst will have to do without the services of Florian Reichert and Mike Harbus, the team’s No. 3 and No. 7 runners from the 2007 NCAA Championships. Reichert was successful in his lone season with the Jeffs, as he won the Amherst Invitational and earned All-New England Region honors for finishing 17th at the NCAA Regional Championships, while Harbus placed third at the Amherst Invite and was consistent throughout the season. The Jeffs also lose to graduation Basile Beaty and Ben Read, who joined Harbus on last year’s NESCAC Fall All-Academic Team.
This Year’s Team
In addition to returning five of the seven runners from last year’s NCAA Championship squad, Amherst welcomes back a healthy Harrison Lakehomer, who sat out the 2007 season with an injury but was the team’s top runner as a sophomore in 2006. Reigning NESCAC Rookie of the Year Will Yochum will highlight this year’s young team, as he earned All-Conference First Team honors and was the only male first-year with an All-NESCAC selection. Yochum also stood out at the national level, placing 51st at the Open New England Championships to mark the best finish among Division III first-years and the third best finish among all first-years.
While Lakehomer will lead the senior class, the juniors will be led by Daniel Murner, Carlyle Eubank and Eric Holaday, who were the Jeffs’ No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 runners, respectively, at last year’s NCAA Championships. The three junior standouts finished within three seconds of each other at the 2007 regional championships to capture a trio of All-New England Region honors, while Murner was Amherst’s top finisher in three of nine meets last year. Rounding out the top seven runners from last year’s NCAA squad and joining Yochum to lead the sophomore class is Ben Mears, who Coach Nedeau expects to play a more significant role in 2008.
While the New England region should be very strong once again, with several teams returning a lot of talent, Coach Nedeau hopes to again challenge for the program’s first NESCAC title before the team sets its sights on repeating as regional champions and cracking the top 10 at nationals. Since 2005, the Lord Jeffs have improved their score and their placing at the conference championships each year, finishing just 39 points behind first-place Williams in 2007 after trailing the champion Ephs by 114 in 2006. The season begins Saturday, Sept. 6 when the Jeffs will attempt to win a third consecutive Amherst Invitational.