The men’s cross country team ran a disappointing race on Friday, placing 18th in the Paul Short Invitational 8k at Lehigh University. Team members said they plan to use the next two weeks to prepare for pre-nationals, where they hope to redeem last week’s performance.
Out of the 42 teams that raced in Friday’s invite, Yale came in 18th with 470 points. Brian Gertzen ’07 was the first Yalie to finish, placing 45th with a time of 25:13, followed by Andrew Pitts ’07, who came in 70th place with a time of 25:29. Jake Gallagher ’09 was the third Yale runner to cross the finish line, taking 87th place with a time of 25:39, followed by Murat Kayali ’09, who came in 133rd at 26:09. Max Brown ’10 rounded out the top five for Yale, coming in 149th with a time of 26:15. Team members said they feel they could have performed better.
“We expected to do much better than that,” team captain David Napper ’07 said. “We know we’re better than the times we ran on Friday.”
Jake Gallagher ’09 also said Friday’s race was a weak showing for Yale.
“In general our team performed quite poorly,” Gallagher said.
Yale’s strategy at the beginning of the race was to have its runners stick together, Pitts said. This worked very well against Harvard last week, when Yale claimed four of the top five spots against its archrival.
“I wouldn’t say [Friday’s race] was a failure of strategy,” Napper said. “We just didn’t race well.”
Villanova took first in the race with a score of 103 points, while the University of Pittsburgh took second with 166 points and Columbia came in third with 188. Yale’s distance in the rankings from these universities misrepresents their level of competitiveness, Napper said.
“We definitely want to be competing with those teams,” he said.
Despite Friday’s setback, the team will stick to coach Dan Ireland’s current training schedule, working toward the upcoming NCAA pre-nationals, which will be held in Indiana in two weeks.
“We’ve been practicing really well,” Gallagher said. “We’ll let this motivate us for pre-nationals. … Our next meet is about making it up to our coach.”
In the coming weeks the team will continue to work on improving its fitness level, Pitts said.
Even after the disappointing race, the team seems confident in its future success.
“The most important races are coming up,” Napper said. “We’re just going to keep doing the right things and trust in our abilities.”
Some members of the cross country team will head to Boston this weekend, where they will compete in the New England Championships. With the Elis heading to Terre Haute, Ind., for pre-nationals in two weeks and New York City for the nationals in a month, the men’s cross country team will have ample time to show whether Friday’s race was a fluke.