While many students were discussing elaborate Halloween costume plans, the men’s cross country team was making history.
On Friday, the Bulldogs finished third with a score of 85 at the Heptagonal Championships, marking a tremendous turnaround from 8th place in 2002 and 7th in 2001.
“We knew we could finish top four, but a lot of other people didn’t,” Moriarty said. “We went out with no pressure on us and got the job done.”
The Ivy League team champion for 2003 was Brown, which recorded 60 points. Steve Sundell of Columbia was the individual victor with a time of 24:26.9 for the five mile race, leading Columbia to a second place finish with a score of 69. Yale was the only squad that had two members receive first team All-Ivy honors — Luke Meyer ’05 and Casey Moriarty ’05. David Napper ’07 made second team All-Ivy and was the only freshman in the Ancient Eight to make either All-Ivy squad.
“It was awesome, it really is so much more fun when we are doing well,” Meyer said. “As a team, it also gives us a greater sense of our purpose.”
Meyer, the top Eli finisher, ran a time of 24:48.4 on the daunting, hilly course and got fourth place overall. Meyer’s time is also the fourth-fastest for Yale in the history of the Heps.
“I don’t really have any regrets about it, and I am happy,” Meyer said.
Meyer went out strong in the front pack and remained there throughout. Over the back hills, toward the middle of the race, Sundell started pulling away from Meyer and the other leaders, but Meyer stayed strong. Meyer was able to pass a couple of his competitors near the last mile on Cemetery Hill and ran strong over the last flat 500 meters of the course.
Moriarty, who finished 62nd at Heps last year, said he went out with the intention of being in the top 25 and was surprised at the one-mile mark when he was told he was in 15th place. After that, he continued to push his pace.
“I was relaxed and confident and as the race went on I got more and more excited,” Moriarty said. “I wanted to crack the top seven and so the last mile I surged and held off [Darmouth’s Kevin] Arnold.”
Moriarty finished 7th place with a time of 25:08.0, followed by Napper who ran a time of 25:14.7, which was good for 11th place. Napper described the race as phenomenal.
“I am really happy with 11th place,” Napper said. “It was a shocker for me.”
Josh Yelsey ’05 was the fourth Eli harrier to cross the finish line. He clocked in at 25:36.2, earning 22nd place. Following Yelsey for Yale were Patrick Dantzer ’06 in 41st place, Andrew Johnson ’06 in 52nd place, and captain Robert Dwyer ’04 in 54th place.
Napper and Moriarty attributed the strong performance by the Elis to the excellent coaching by head coach Dan Ireland. In just four years with the Bulldogs, Ireland has managed to turn the program around.
“He brings so much enthusiasm for the sport and he has wanted this so bad since he got here,” Moriarty said. “To have all his work pay off is one of the most rewarding parts of getting third place.”
Historically, this was a significant race for the Elis. This is only the fifth time since 1970 that the Bulldogs placed in the top three at Heps.
“It’s shocking,” Moriarty said. “Teams do not go from last place to third in only one year. We have sent the message that Yale is here to stay.”
Finishing behind the Bulldogs were Dartmouth with a score of 90, Princeton with 97, Harvard with 125, Penn with 154, and Cornell with 218.
Although the Bulldogs performed well at Heps, their season is not yet over. On Nov. 15, the Elis will race at the NCAA Regional Championships, competing for the opportunity to race at the NCAA National Championships.
“We have still got another race and a lot more damage to do,” Napper said.