Facing near-freezing temperatures, 45 mile-per-hour wind gusts, and 10,000 meters of cold, hard, Bronx terrain, the men’s cross country team gutted out a fifth place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regionals Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park.
The Bulldogs did not qualify for the NCAA Championships, but captain Lucas Meyer ’05 became only one of two Bulldogs ever to advance to the individual championships twice, finishing third with a time of 30:37.5. He missed winning the race by less than 1.5 seconds. Casey Moriarty ’05, who clocked in at 31:12.1, barely missed qualifying for a bid.
“Luke ran an amazing race,” Moriarty said. “He has had an incredible cross country career and I think he has a great chance at earning All-American honors at nationals. I have no doubt he will close out one of the best individual seasons in Yale history successfully.”
The Bulldogs’ fifth place finish last weekend came on the heels of a disappointing fifth place finish at the Heptagonal Championships two weeks ago. But this Saturday, the Elis raced against 37 teams — a much more formidable field than Heps, where Yale faced only the Ancient Eight.
“The race on Saturday was definitely positive,” Yale runner Patrick Dantzer ’06 said. “Luke and Casey ran like studs as per usual, but the difference this time was our 3, 4, 5 stepped up. We were down a few key guys with injuries, but everyone who ran represented well.”
The Elis scored 143 points in the race, finishing behind Providence (51), Iona (56), Columbia (119) and Brown (136). Dantzer was the third Bulldog to cross the finish line, recording a time of 31:42.6 and finishing 20th overall.
“Patrick Dantzer ran an amazing race and had the best race of the day among Yale runners,” Yale head coach Daniel Ireland said. “He finally performed like I knew he was capable of performing. Obviously, Lucas had a great day as well in just missing winning the race by about one second and earning his second trip consecutive trip to NCAA nationals.”
Meyer will compete against the other top runners in the country on Monday, Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.
“It’s my last collegiate cross country race,” Meyer said. “I hope to make the most of it and run faster than ever before. It’s a great opportunity to compete with some of the best runners in the nation.”
Meyer’s teammates expressed excitement about their captain’s success.
“Luke qualifying for nationals has to stand above everything,” Dantzer said. “There is no doubt that he is All-American material. He may not be the fastest runner in the country, but he is the toughest. He’ll take anyone head on and push them to their limit.”
The Elis have one team meet left in the season — the IC4A Championship — on Saturday Nov. 20 in Van Cortlandt Park. Moriarty won the race last year and is hoping to defend his title.
“The biggest disappointment is Casey missing nationals by one spot,” Dantzer said. “I’d be willing to wager that he is the best runner in the country that won’t be at NCAAs. We run IC4As this Saturday. Casey is the defending champion and hopefully he can find some solace in repeating.”
Moriarty remained positive about the season.
“Considering the number of setbacks this team has had this season it is remarkable that we finished fifth at Regionals,” Moriarty said. “Although we did not reach all of our goals this year, our perseverance through injuries and sickness is something that we are all very proud of.”