Cross Country: April Schilling powers Amherst past Northampton

  • Amherst and Northampton runners take off at the start of the boys cross country race Tuesday in Amherst. FOR THE GAZETTE/J. ANTHONY ROBERTS

  • Amherst’s April Schilling heads toward the finish line en route to a first-place finish against Northampton on Tuesday in Amherst. Northampton’s Lily Shimpach finished second. FOR THE GAZETTE/J. ANTHONY ROBERTS

  • Northampton’s Desmond Carnevale, right, and Ben Correard approach the finish line Tuesday at Amherst Regional.  Carnevale placed ninth (18:39), and Correard was 10th (18:40). COURTESY J. ANTHONY ROBERTS

  • Amherst’s April Schilling heads toward the finish line en route to a first-place finish against Northampton on Tuesday in Amherst. Northampton’s Lily Shimpach finished second. FOR THE GAZETTE/J. ANTHONY ROBERTS

  • Amherst and Northampton runners take off at the start of the girls cross country race Tuesday in Amherst. FOR THE GAZETTE/J. ANTHONY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/5/2021 11:20:53 PM

AMHERST — April Schilling trailed Northampton’s Lily Shimpach for the first mile of Tuesday’s cross country race against the Blue Devils.

The Amherst junior knew the course. She sensed the hills would present her the opportunity to pull ahead. Schilling made her move on the “Green Monster,” Amherst’s name for the sheer hill near the middle school.

“I was like, ‘I could win this’ and I could get in front of her, then I just pushed up with all the power that I had,” Schilling said. “I really wanted to show my coach I had the strength and power to do what he wanted me to do. I pulled it from my whole body.”

Shimpach, a senior, held Schilling off until the final stretch behind the high school when the Amherst runner engaged her finishing kick.

Schilling crossed the line first in 21 minutes, 10 seconds, helping the Hurricanes secure a 23-33 victory over Northampton on their home course.

“Her kick was... that was the best kick I’ve seen from her,” Amherst girls coach Elena Betke-Brunswick said.

Shimpach was second at 21:12. Amherst’s Tamar Brann followed in third (21:38) with teammate Elizabeth Sawicki close behind in fourth (22:14).

“We’ve always really focused on beating Northampton,” Schilling said. “I didn’t think the result I had would be like that, but it’s a pretty big deal.”

Northampton’s Nora Reade (22:26) and Esme Marini-Rapoport (22:36) were fifth and sixth, respectively.

Amrita Rutter of Amherst took seventh (22:58), and Julia Edgerly (23:07) closed out the victory in eighth.

“We had been practicing running in packs together, and they had some really specific missions going in,” Betke-Brunswick said. “Every single runner matters.” 

Elizabeth McDonough finished ninth for the Blue Devils (23:10), and Taylor Lynch closed the scoring in 11th (23:51).

In the boys race, Amherst kept its home unbeaten streak alive against the Blue Devils with a tighter pack at the top.

Northampton claimed the top two spots on the podium, but the Hurricanes crammed four runners between third and sixth place to win, 26-29.

Diego Lopez crossing the line in sixth (18:02) ahead of Northampton’s Theodore (Teddy) King-Pollet (18:03) clinched the Amherst win.

“As I was going through, my team was yelling at me that it was really close and I had to keep ahead of him,” Lopez said. “It was a really fun race because he kept passing me, and I saw I had the energy to catch up to him again, and it kept going on like that until the end.”

Had King-Pollet caught Lopez, they would’ve tied with 27 points and gone to the sixth runner to break it: Northampton’s Ben Correard in 10th (18:40).

“Diego popped one for us. That was impressive,” Amherst boys coach Chris Gould said. “He’s been coming on all season long. I think he’s really ready to play an important role.”

Northampton’s Riley Cole won the boys race in 17:10, almost 40 seconds clear of the second finisher. He followed Amherst’s top runners through the early stretches to make sure he was going on the right path, then he realized he was going too slow and kicked into gear after the first hill.

“I just wanted to get a good workout in and take the lead,” Cole said. “I was just looking behind to make sure that my teammates were staying on there.”

Davis Wheat kept pace. He took second in 17:48.

“It’s what they would have needed to beat us, so I hand it to them for being able to hang on to one, two,” Gould said. “I had hoped that our three, four, five, six were going to move on their second guy when I saw them out there on the course. They just couldn’t quite get him.”

David Pinero-Jacome placed third for the Hurricanes (17:57) followed by Ryan Yanko in fourth (18:00) and Kyle Yanko in fifth (18:01).

Aidan Bergeron completed Amherst’s scoring in eighth (18:33).

Desmond Carneval was ninth for the Blue Devils (18:39).

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

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