Cross country teams run like the wind

  • sohia-jacobs-townsely
    Sophia Jacobs-Townsley, of Amherst comes down the hill during the first part of the Amherst Versus Northampton Cross Country meet. She took first. Photo: masslive.com
  • boys-cc-peter
    Peter Treyz, running for Amherst boys' cross country. Photo: masslive.com

The dominant girls’ cross country team is having another strong season with their only loss coming at the hands of an incredibly strong Northampton team.

Their top runner, Sophia Jacobs Townsley, is one of the best runners in the state, recently winning the Amherst Invitational against runners from all over New England.

Only a sophomore, Townsley was the Western Mass champion last year as a freshman and the 10th best runner in the state.

She hopes to do even better this year. “[My goal] is to win Western Mass and qualify for nationals.”

As a team, Amherst finished second to Northampton in last year’s Western Mass race, but this year, the team is optimistic.

“Our chances of beating Northampton are definitely higher than last year,”  said varsity runner Neosha Narayanan.  “We have been working really hard so we are hopeful.”

In the first race of the year Amherst narrowly lost to Northampton by a mere four points so coming back and winning the Western Mass championship is a real possibility.

Outside of practice and meets, the team has a three day pre-season training camp in New Hampshire, as well as pasta dinners and a team sleepover.  “Our team culture is very cohesive and supportive.  We sing before every race.” Narayanan said.  “[The team is] a family.”

This year’s boys’ cross country team is young and full of life.  It is one of the largest teams at the school, attracting some 42 members ranging from lifetime runners to people just starting and looking for a new experience.

One of the great parts of cross country and running in general according to coach Chris Gould is that, “It attracts people from all different walks of life.”

The team is currently 5-2.  They are hoping to qualify for the state meet, which means they will have to finish in the top three in Western Mass.

Currently, “We are running like the fourth best team is Western Mass” said coach Gould.

Amherst has qualified for every state meet since 1997 but this year, qualifying will be especially difficult.

Amherst’s dynamite top three runners, Jack Yanko, Aidan Shea, and Aiden Foucault Etheridge, carry the team.  All three runners have won at least one meet this year with Jack Yanko most often taking the lead.

According to Coach Gould, “Jack Yanko is one of the best runners in all of Western Mass.”

Gould attributed much of his team’s success to the leadership of these top three, as well as that of Leif Stevens and Peter Treyz.

The dedicated team is working hard to achieve their goal of running at the state meet, with top runners often hitting an astonishing 60 miles per week.

The team is very optimistic about the rest of the season.  When asked if the team would make the state meet, varsity runner William Wright responded, “Is that even a question?”

Outside of running, the team has pasta dinners every friday night before big meets to most importantly, carbo load, but also to come together and have fun as a team.

There is a positive vibe around the team as a whole.  Varsity runner, Peter Treyz, said, “My favorite part about cross country is probably the team spirit.”

The runners also demonstrate tremendous respect and admiration for the coaches.

When asked what his favorite part of cross country was, runner Aidan Shea responded, “Definitely [coaches] Bob and Gould.”

Coach Gould hopes the cross country team can inspire more ARHS students to run, because running is an enjoyable sport that can stay with people their whole lives.

Running improves fitness both mentally and physically.

Some days, as Peter Treyz puts it, “It can provide a great escape from life and school.”

If you would like to see both teams in action, come to the upcoming Western Mass meet on November 13.