Records dropped more readily than the fall leaves for the men’s cross country team at the Big Two Championships Saturday. But in the end it was the runner finishing ninth who helped the Bulldogs edge Harvard in Cambridge.
The day before the race, Andrew Johnson ’06 was running on his own in East Rock Park when he sprained his ankle. But Johnson decided to run despite the injury and his ninth-place finish gave Yale a one-point edge over Harvard in its 27-28 victory. In cross country, the team with the fewest number of points wins.
“Andrew Johnson gave a gutsy performance as our fifth man,” said teammate Patrick Dantzer ’06. “He had a badly sprained ankle the size of a softball, but [he] outsprinted a Harvard man in the finishing straight to put us over the top.”
Johnson’s effort handed the Elis their second win in a row at the Big Two Championships. The race, held at Harvard’s hilly Franklin Park course, was a milestone for Yale. Lucas Meyer ’05 finished No. 2 out of 33 runners and set a Yale record for the Franklin Park course with his time of 24:27.
Casey Moriarty ’05 came in 20 seconds after Meyer, placing No. 3 overall with a time of 24:47. Rounding out Yale’s finishers were David Napper ’07, who placed fifth; No. 8 Patrick Dantzer ’06; and Johnson, who was ninth.
“This was an excellent race for us, perhaps one of the best,” Moriarty said. “Our top three finishes were three of the top times in Yale history on the Franklin Park course.”
David Napper ’07, whose performance at the Iona Meet of Champions last weekend made him the sixth all-time fastest Yale freshman on the Iona course, set the all-time record for a Yale freshman at Franklin Park with his time of 24:56.
Moriarty credits team persistence for the cross country win. “In the middle of the race we were very close [with Harvard],” Moriarty said. “We battled back, though. We wanted it more, we were tougher, and that’s why we won. We never gave up and beat Harvard man for man.”
This Friday, the cross country team returns to Franklin Park for the New England Championships, where they will face approximately 45 other colleges, including a rematch with Harvard.