The depth of the women’s cross-country team was on full display this weekend.
In a pair of top-10 finishes, half of the squad placed seventh at the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh Saturday while the other half earned third at the Quinnipiac Invitational in Hamden, Conn. yesterday.
“The depth on the team is incredible,” team member Vanessa Mazandi ’05 said. “We have so many talented runners and it showed this weekend.”
Mazandi is a sports columnist for the Yale Daily News.
Cara Kiernan, arguably the most talented runner on the team, led the Bulldogs at Lehigh with a sixth-place finish. It was the second top-10 finish this fall for Kiernan, who placed third at the Fordham Invitational Sept. 11.
“I want to continue working hard and improving, and I think that’s all anyone can ask,” Kiernan said. “You can’t have a team without seven people. So, everyone has a really important role and is just as important as the other runners.”
Ashley Campbell ’07, the second Bulldog to cross the end-line, finished 47th, one place ahead of Vanessa Everding ’05. Katie McKinstry ’07, Susan Chan ’05 and Melissa Donais ’06 finished 61st, 63rd and 65th, respectively while Claire Hamilton ’07 placed 90th in the 241-runner field.
Yale totaled 225 points. Ivy League rival Columbia finished third with 89 points and Tennessee placed first among the 35 teams with 53 points. In cross country competition, the team with the lowest point total wins.
“We definitely did a great job as a team,” Kiernan said. “We stayed together in a pack at the beginning and got off to a good start and had some really strong finishes.”
Whereas most races, including the upcoming Heptagonals, are five kilometers, the course at Lehigh was six kilometers. The extra distance proved challenging, but helped the Bulldogs prepare for pre-nationals and nationals — both six-km races.
“It was a great experience for us to run a longer course,” Kiernan said. “It’s a lot like the course at [pre-nationals].”
One day after Yale’s strong results at Lehigh, the rest of the Bulldogs put together an equally impressive performance at Quinnipiac.
Lauren Davis ’06 paced Yale with a fourth-place finish. Vanessa Mazandi ’05 was 13th, Rachel Harrington ’06, 18th, Meredith Leenhouts ’08, 25th, Jessie MacLeod ’08, 33rd, Ingrid Sproll ’08, 36th and Liz Calle ’08, 43rd.
Northeastern edged host Quinnipiac, 49-48 to win the meet. Yale finished with 90 points.
“I thought we did a great job,” Mazandi said. “Lauren Davis was exceptional and for a lot of the freshmen, it was their first race, and they were great.”
Harrington said the freshmen’s performance bodes well for the Bulldogs, who boast a blend of youth and experience.
“While we have many upperclassmen playing key roles on the team, we also have a lot of freshmen that will be very important this season,” Harrington said. “The freshmen are already proving to be great competitors and as they become more experienced, our team will only become stronger.”
Although the Bulldogs demonstrated their depth this weekend, they have the potential to be even deeper. Lindsay Donaldson ’08 and captain Anne Martin ’05 did not race this weekend. Their return will bolster an already gifted group of runners.