NESCAC Cross Country Championships Set for Saturday

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men’s and women’s cross country teams will head to Hamilton College this Saturday to compete in the 2010 NESCAC Championships. The 28th installment of the annual conference meet will begin at noon with the men’s 8-kilometer race and will be followed at 1 p.m. by the women’s 6-kilometer race.

The last four men’s titles have gone to Williams College, which will once again be the favorite after leading all Division III schools at the 2010 Open New England Championships. Amherst placed second to the Ephs in last year’s conference meet, marking the fourth consecutive year the Lord Jeffs landed in the top three.

Gunning for a fourth consecutive individual NESCAC title will be Hamilton senior Peter Kosgei, with Amherst’s Will Yochum ’11 and the Ephs’ Josephat Koima ’12 among the favorites to snap the impressive streak. Yochum has been successful in the conference championships, placing second in 2007, 15th in 2008 and fifth in 2009. His breakout performance as a first-year earned him Rookie of the Year and All-NESCAC First Team honors.

Yochum is one of three Amherst runners who returned to the team this season after placing in the top 20 at the NESCAC Championship in 2009. In addition to Yochum earning another All-Conference First Team selection for landing fifth a year ago, John McGrail ’11 and Steve Corsello ’11 finished 17th and 20th, respectively.

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Yochum has been the team’s most consistent performer this year, winning individual titles at the UMass Invitational and Little Three Championship. He also placed second at the Williams Purple Valley Classic before finishing eighth at the Open New England Championship as the only NESCAC runner in the top 10. For his performances at UMass and the regional championships, Yochum was named the conference’s Performer of the Week.

Corsello and McGrail have also had strong senior years for Amherst, as Corsello has finished with the Jeffs’ second fastest time in three races this season. Most recently, Corsello took third place at the Little Three Championship. Also looking to factor into the scoring for the Amherst men are sophomores Adron Pitmon, Pat Grimes and Andrew Erskine.

On the women’s side, defending NESCAC champion Middlebury College has been one of the top teams in Division III this season. During the Open New England Championship, the Panthers led all Division III schools and placed third overall in the 47-team field.

Amherst won the 2006 and 2007 conference titles and is coming off a third-place finish in 2009. At this year’s regional championships, the Jeffs placed third among NESCAC teams and were 15th overall. Amherst has featured the past three individual conference champions in Heather Wilson ’08, Elise Tropiano ’09 and Sophia Galleher ’10.

Although the Jeffs lost Galleher to graduation, they return four runners who placed among the top 20 at last year’s NESCAC Championship. Finishing within 13 seconds of each other in 2009 were Hallie Schwab ’11 (15th), Ali Simeone ’13 (17th), Melissa Sullivan ’12 (18th) and Mercedes Taylor ’11 (20th).

Simeone has been Amherst’s top finisher in the past four races, as she placed second at the Williams Purple Valley Classic and Little Three Championship. Sullivan has put in the Jeffs’ second fastest time in three races this season, while Christina Wong ’11 has also been consistent since winning the Amherst Invitational.

Tufts senior Amy Wilfert is the top returner from last year’s NESCAC Championship (3rd). Also competing for the women’s title this Saturday will be Williams College sophomore Annie Dear, who was the top NESCAC individual at the Open New Englands (9th). Simeone could be right up there with the front of the pack, as she finished only three seconds behind Dear at the Little Threes.

Results from Saturday's conference meet will be posted on the NESCAC Website as soon as they are available.