X-C Nationals wait for Donaldson ’08

After a strenuous season of ups and downs, both of Yale’s cross-country teams brought the year to a close with respectable finishes in the NCAA Northeast Regionals, which drew 41 institutions on Saturday.

The men’s team finished eighth with 248 points, up two places from last year’s 10th-place landing. Jake Gallagher ’09 was the top Eli runner, placing 29th with a time of 32:44.0. On the women’s side, the Bulldogs placed just a notch higher, at seventh overall with 227 points. Lindsay Donaldson’s ’08 second-place finish was the team’s best and qualified her for the NCAA Championships on Nov. 20. But on the whole, members of both teams said they had hoped to rank higher.

Men’s captain David Napper ’07 said the Regionals results were unrepresentative of the men’s season.

“I’m extremely happy with how the season has turned out,” Napper said. “We put more effort into training this year, and we stayed healthier than last year. Although the Regionals were slightly disappointing, our hallmark achievement this season was our finish at the Ivy League championships.”

The Elis, predicted to place last among the Ivies at Heps two weekends ago, finished fourth.

“We really pulled it together,” Napper said of the championships. “When it came down to the heart of the race, we gave it our all.”

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Regionals did not pan out quite in the same way. Initially placed fifth regionally, the Bulldogs came out of the event ranked three notches lower than they were going into it.

“The results were disappointing,” Jared Bell ’09 said. “We were running over a mile longer, which we just weren’t used to. It was tough to concentrate.”

Napper said the conditions of the race may have adversely impacted the team’s final ranking.

“Overall, it was an unusually slow day, a little bit warmer than usual and very windy,” he said. “The times were slower across the board.”

The women were also slightly disappointed with their team’s overall finish. Kelli Buck ’09 said the team had hoped to break the top five at the meet, but the course was tough and “mentally draining.”

The team members also said the competition from other schools at the meet was much stiffer than in previous years.

“It was a strong year within the region among the top seven schools,” Buck said. “The competition was heated.”

Still, a number of the lady Bulldogs held their own on the field. Allyson Rinderle ’10 was second among the Elis, finishing 32nd.

Donaldson is looking forward to bettering her time at the upcoming Nationals, where she placed 41st last year. Although she is hopeful, Donaldson said that she does not have any clear expectations for the event.

“It’s hard to know what to expect,” Donaldson said. “Anything can happen. It all comes down to the race and the competition on the day.”

Those who didn’t make the Nationals will compete at the Eastern College Athletic Conference next weekend. Expectations for the last meet of the year are high. Ingrid Sproll ’08 said the team has consistently placed among the top three at ECACs and is hoping to do so again this year.

With just one more meet left in the season, both teams are looking forward to honing the younger Bulldogs’ solid and consistent performances to better next year’s results.

“We have a fairly young team,” Donaldson said. “We’re definitely looking forward to getting our younger members back and improving on this year’s times.”

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