Amherst Invitational a family affair for Hurricanes’ Ryan Yanko

  • The Amherst Regional girls cross country team takes off from the start line at the 2021 Amherst Invitational cross country race Saturday at Hampshire College. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Amherst Regional senior Ryan Yanko runs at the 2021 Amherst Invitational cross country race Saturday at Hampshire College. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • The start of the boys 5k at the 2021 Amherst Invitational cross country race Saturday at Hampshire College. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • PVCICS freshman Sarah Fardal races at the the 2021 Amherst Invitational cross country race Saturday at Hampshire College. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Amerst Regional junior Tamar Byl-Brann approaches the finish line at the 2021 Amherst Invitational cross country race Saturday at Hampshire College. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • PVCICS senior Odin Moore runs at the 2021 Amherst Invitational cross country race Saturday at Hampshire College. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/18/2021 2:59:54 PM

AMHERST – The Amherst Invitational runs in Ryan Yanko’s family. He watched his older brother Jack Yanko compete at Hampshire College before participating himself as a freshman and sophomore.

His younger brother Kyle Yanko raced with him Saturday for the Hurricanes. The 2021 event, the 25th edition, marked a return after the cancellation in 2020.

“It’s always been very special to me,” Ryan Yanko said. “It was awesome to be back here, back with the team, racing with a lot of other teams.”

He paced the Hurricanes effort, finishing the 5-kilometer course 13th in 17 minutes, 19 seconds. Kyle Yanko followed in 17th (17:34).

“I think we might have gotten out too fast, got a little cocky and went out with some of the leaders right at the beginning,” Ryan Yanko said. “But they were in a different league.”

Keene took the top two spots in the boys race. Torin Kindopp won in 16:01, pulling away from teammate Jonathan Hills (16:10) down the home stretch.

Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School senior Odin Moore earned a top-10 finish in one of the first big meets of his career racing for a nascent Dragons program. The Conway native placed ninth (17:04).

“I was hoping for a bit faster time, but the place makes up for it,” Moore said. “Seeing all the people that are ridiculously fast is really inspiring to push it and see how fast I can run.”

He completed a marathon back in April in under three hours and would have qualified for the Boston Marathon if he was old enough. Moore is just 17. 

Amherst’s David Pinero-Jacome took 25th (17:55), Diego Lopez was 27th (18:00) and Ben Buffone finished 39th (18:29).

“It may be important or very helpful for us to learn some information about what other teams look like,” Amherst coach Chris Gould said.

Longmeadow showed well, as Will Cowley took sixth, and the Lancers put two runners in the top 10.

“I figured they were a little better than we are, and they are,” Gould said. “We can look at those numbers and say ‘how do we move forward? What are the kind of things we do to be competitive with that?’ And they’re not our only competition, of course, but they’re playing in our ballpark.”

In the girls race, Amherst’s Tamar Byl-Brann used her experience on the course to pick runners off as the race progressed. The junior conserved her energy early for a late hill, where she made her move. Byl-Brann took 11th (21:31), holding off Wachusett’s Meghann Jones at the line.

“There’s a hill a lot of people underestimate,” Byl-Brann said. “That hill is where you realize which group you’ll be in and which people you’ll have to chase.”

Nashoba’s Carolyn Collins won the girls race in 19:09, one of four runners under 20 minutes for the 5K.

April Schilling placed 14th for Amherst (21:47).

PVCICS freshman Sarah Fardal was the top first-year across the line in 18th (22:07). It was her first large meet experience after only competing in duals so far this season.

“This is one of the first times I’ve actually had competition in a race,” she said. “It was cool to be running with people, it was a drive to go faster.”

The Dragons have only existed as a program for a half decade. Saturday was their first large invitational. The race was also important because PVCICS will use Hampshire College as its home course and host a home meet Wednesday.

“I wanted to get them out and get them experienced with a larger race,” PVCICS coach Kevin Brown said. “These are typically a faster start than a normal meet, so it’s really about her (Fardal) learning her pace.”

Elizabeth Sawicki took 25th for the Hurricanes (22:40). Bevin Montgomery-Gehrt (23:32) and Julia Edgerly (23:44) wrapped up the Amherst’s pack in 38th and 39th, respectively.

Overall, 14 teams and roughly 500 runners participated.

“We’re trying to get on the way back, the sport is alive and doing good things for the runners involved,” Gould said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.




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