Amherst Ready to Defend NESCAC, NCAA Titles

NCAA
In 2007, the Lord Jeffs captured the first NCAA title in Amherst women's cross country program history.

2007 Recap
Amherst has very little room for improvement this season, as last year’s women’s team took home the first national championship in program history and just the fourth in school history. The road to the NCAA Championships was just as impressive for the Lord Jeffs, who won six of their first eight meets and placed second in the other two. Before nationals even took place, Amherst had been crowned Little Three and NESCAC champions and had taken home the NCAA Regional Championship title for the first time ever. The national title was sweet redemption for the Lord Jeffs, who finished just one point behind Middlebury College at the 2006 nationals. For his success with the women’s team, Coach Nedeau was named the NESCAC, New England and national coach of the year.

Losses
The Amherst women will certainly feel the sting of several losses from what was the strongest senior class in program history. Leading the Class of 2008 was Heather Wilson, who earned All-America honors for finishing ninth at the NCAA Championships and All-Region honors for placing second at regionals. In addition to her three NESCAC Women’s Performer of the Week selections last year, Wilson was named the Most Outstanding Performer at the conference championships for finishing first individually.

Joining Wilson on the All-Region Team were classmates Kim Partee and Meg Ray for placing sixth and 15th, respectively, while Katie Moravec finished first at the ECAC Championships and grabbed a NESCAC Performer of the Week nod. Partee, the 2004 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, earned All-Conference honors in each of her four years at Amherst. Rounding out the graduates are Nicole Green and Laura Mortimer, who each earned NESCAC Fall All-Academic recognition last year.

This Year’s Team
Despite the losses, Amherst returns four of its top seven runners from nationals. Leading a talented senior class will be Elise Tropiano, who joined Wilson on last year’s All-America and All-Region teams by excelling at the national level. Leading up to the NCAA Championships (where she placed 14th), Tropiano had not placed worse than seventh in any meet, grabbing a NESCAC Performer of the Week nod in September. Classmates Caitlin McDermott-Murphy and Nicole Anderson also earned All-Region honors last year and placed 34th and 44th, respectively, at the national championships and finished within 10 seconds of each other.

Highlighting this year’s juniors will be the 2006 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, Sophia Galleher, whose 21st place showing at last year’s NCAA Regional Championships garnered her All-Region recognition. Coach Nedeau recognizes several experienced runners that could step into a scoring role this season, including seniors Liz Dalton and Zandra Walton, junior Catherine Knuff and sophomore Hallie Schwab, who placed fifth at the ECAC Championships as a first-year. Several strong first-year runners—including Eliza Schlach and Shannon McKenna—could have an immediate impact and should help to bolster the depth and strength of the team.

Season Outlook
While this past season will be tough to replicate, the team will be looking to defend its titles at the NESCAC, district and national championships and will look to some new faces to help accomplish those lofty goals. As usual, the season kicks off Saturday, Sept. 6 at the Amherst Invitational, an event that the Lord Jeff women have won in each of the past five years. In addition to the NCAA titles to defend, Amherst has a chance to three-peat as Little Three and NESCAC champs.