XC responds at Regionals after a difficult Heps

Low finishes at the Ivy League Championship two weeks ago may have left a bad taste in the mouths of the Yale cross country teams, but this past weekend’s race in Boston provided the runners with a big helping of redemption.

The men and women garnered eighth- and 10th-place finishes, respectively, out the 34 teams that competed in the NCAA Northeast regional at Franklin Park. For the fourth year, Captain Lindsey Donaldson ’08 earned a bid to compete in the national championship with her third-place finish Saturday.

After finishing eighth in Heps — the Ancient Eight’s championship race Oct. 26 — the men’s team was pleased with its finish over the weekend, and felt it better represented their skill level, coach Dan Ireland said.

“All year long we felt like we were one of the top seven or eight teams in the region, but we had been ranked from No. 12 to 15,” he said. “We really wanted to prove that we were one of the best, especially with the way we ran at Heps.”

The Bulldogs beat Stony Brook for an eighth-place finish, despite a tie at 268 points, because the Elis’ sixth runner recorded a higher finish.

Jake Gallagher ’09 continued his season-long trend of leading the Bulldogs by placing 19th in 30:26. He narrowly missed the cut to qualify for Nationals, but next season’s outlook is favorable — he will return as one of the top-10 runners in the Northeast region.

Gallagher finished less than 30 seconds behind the individual winner — Max Smith, of Providence — who finished in 29:58.

Following Gallagher, Chris Labosky ’10 finished in 44th place, in 31:07, and captain Tadhg O’Callaghan ’08 was 58th in 31:19. Johnny Van Deventer ’11 (67th, 31:27) and Murat Kayali ’09 (85th, 31:52) rounded out the Eli pack.

Van Deventer, who ran as the 10th man at Heps, garnered his best finish of the season.

“At Heps, we raced 12 individuals,” Ireland said. “For this race, I told the guys, ‘All for one and one for all,’ and this was the best team effort I’ve seen all season.”

After Heps, the Bulldogs said they hoped to avenge their Ivy League loss by defeating some Ancient Eight rivals this weekend. But with five Ivy opponents racing at regionals, the Elis only defeated Columbia, who had placed fourth at Heps.

Gallagher, however, earned some personal revenge by finishing behind only two individual Ivy League runners — an improvement over his 12th-place finish at Heps.

The Elis will ride this top-10 finish into their final race of the season this Saturday, Nov. 17, at the IC4A Championships in the Bronx.

“We definitely have a more positive outlook coming off a good performance, after the brutal performance we had at the Ivy League,” Gallagher said. “We are looking forward to getting in one more race for the season.”

The women’s team also earned a top-10 finish with 251 points. Providence won the team title with 72 points.

Donaldson led the Elis with her finish, which was only three seconds behind individual winner Danette Doetzel of Providence, who completed the course in 20:28.

Kelli Buck ’09 crossed the line next for the Bulldogs, finishing 40th in 21:47, her highest team finish of the year. Ingrid Sproll ’08 also earned her highest team finish of the year, coming in 54th in 22:03. Meredith Leenhouts ’08 (64th, 22:14) and Elizabeth Calle ’08 (93rd, 22:41) completed the Yale scorecard.

Donaldson said the team was generally pleased with the results.

“The team really ran to the best of our ability,” she said. “My goal was to qualify for Nationals, so I am glad I could do that for my last year.”

Donaldson said she will approach Nationals with no set goal for her finish in mind — just running with the best in the nation is enough pressure.

“The atmosphere is very intense because it is top-level competition,” she said. “You have to be a little intense to compete, but I try to stay as relaxed as possible.”

Donaldson will run in the NCAA National Championship on Nov. 19 in Terre Haute, Ind., while the rest of the women’s team will wrap up its season Nov. 17 at the East Coast Athletic Conference Championship in the Bronx.

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