While both the men’s and women’s cross country teams saved their best team races of the season for this past weekend, both fell short of qualifying for the Nov. 24 NCAA Championship. But each team will send its number one runner to the race next Monday.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs competed in the NCAA Northeast Regional at Franklin Park in Boston. The women placed fourth out of 36 teams, and the men placed fourth out of 33 teams.
“Team-wise, pretty much everyone ran great again,” Lucas Meyer ’05 said.
Meyer and Cara Kiernan ’07 each ran well enough to qualify for Nationals individually. To do so, a runner must place in the top four, not counting individuals on qualifying teams. Meyer, sixth overall in a time of 30:20 for 10K, was the third among men not on the qualifying teams and Kiernan, fourth overall in a time of 21:09 for 6K, was the first woman not on a qualifying team.
“I’m so excited and so shocked,” Kiernan said. “I would rather us go as a team, but I am still really happy.”
The Eli women ran perhaps their best team race of the year. Captain Rebecca Hunter ’04 played a key role, bouncing back from sickness to finish second for the Bulldogs and 24th out of 245 women overall.
“Hunter ends up being our number two after [finishing] sixth at [the Heptagonal Championships on Oct. 31],” head coach Mark Young ’68 said. “She does a nice job as captain, leading the team.”
Susan Chan ’05 and Nadia Sawicki ’04 finished a second apart, placing 33rd and 34th respectively. Anne Martin ’05 was the last Bulldog to score, placing 40th, only 25 seconds behind Hunter.
“Our team has never had such a good race collectively,” Kiernan said.
The Bulldogs managed to finish fourth despite the fact that Melissa Donais ’06, ordinarily the team’s number two runner, finished seventh after missing a week of training due to serious abrasions in her knee suffered in a fall at Heps.
Only Dartmouth and nationally ranked No. 8 Providence and No. 9 Columbia beat the Elis. Good pack running, which has been a goal all season, really helped as all seven runners finished in the top 50.
“We obviously would have liked to beat Dartmouth, but they ran really well,” Hunter said. “We were pretty happy to beat [Boston College] who we had not beaten before.”
On the men’s side, Casey Moriarty ’05 said the Bulldogs entered the race with a plan in which he and David Napper ’07 would try to place in the top 20, Josh Yelsey ’05 and Patrick Dantzer ’06 would try to place in the top 40 and Meyer would try to qualify for Nationals.
“The race went out really fast,” Moriarty said. “I was not really worried, but I was in about 40th place through about two miles.”
Moriarty managed to move up, finishing 14th, six seconds ahead of Napper who also passed many runners in the final miles of the race. Yelsey and Dantzer placed 27th and 46th respectively, 35 seconds apart. The Bulldogs finished behind nationally-ranked No. 4 Iona, No. 21 Providence, and Heps champion Brown. The Bulldogs easily defeated the fifth-place Columbia Lions, who beat them at Heps.
“Just like at Heps two weeks ago, we were extremely relaxed and confident,” Moriarty said. “We ran a very smart team race.”
In their preparation for Nationals, Meyer and Kiernan will continue to train with their teams. The men’s squad will compete Saturday in the IC4As, and the women’s in the ECACs. Meyer and Kiernan will travel to Iowa to compete against the best collegiate runners in the nation. Kiernan said she just hopes to do well, but Meyer named a more specific goal.
“I would love to get All-American,” he said.