A strong underdog mentality played to the Bulldogs’ advantage as they attempted to prove to the cross country community that they could still run in this first race since the disappointing Ivy League Finals on Oct. 31.
Both the men and women’s cross country teams finished 11th in the NCAA Northeast Regional Cross Country Championship this past weekend. Thirty-three teams representing the best of New England competed in the men’s division, and 34 competed in the women’s.
“We were really just looking for everyone to step up and prove that we can still run,” Jeffrey Perrella ’10. “Just to race to our potential.”
Leading the men in blue was captain Jake Gallagher ’09, who finished 35th in the field of 239 runners. He completed the 10,000-meter race in 33:02. Despite being first in the Elis’ field, Gallagher expressed disappointment in the placing. Last year, he finished 21st in the same race.
Parella made his best finish since joining the team this fall. He placed 63rd in 33.35.
“Jeffrey ran really well,” Gallagher said of the recent transfer from William & Mary. “We were looking for him to have a breakout run, and he did.”
Also in the top five were John Hinkle ’09, Max Walden ’11 and Jared Bell ’09, who placed 67th (33.38), 77th (33.59) and 78th (34.01), respectively.
The top two teams to finish automatically proceed to the NCAA Championships, so competition between the top contenders was fierce. Iona College snagged three of the top five individuals finishes and the overall gold with a total of 46 points. Providence dueled with Columbia for second, but the Friars eventually triumphed, 88 to 103.
The women finished 11th at the event with 341 points. They raced on a 6-kilometer course – 1,000 meters longer than their usual distance. The added distance, however, did not daunt them, but was considered an advantage, according to captain Kelli Buck ’09.
“We wanted to finish strong and to rebound off our last performance,” Buck said of the team’s goal.
Two weekends ago, on Oct. 31, the team placed eighth in the Heptagonal Championship. This championship served as the Ivy League title, and only featured the Ancient Eight in competition.
Buck proved to be the Elis’ top contender with a 37th place finish overall in 22:33.1. Bevin Peters ’09 was close at her heels, and posted a 22:33.1 for 38th.
Slightly further back was Jennifer Downing ’12 who placed 81st in 23:31.1. Stephany Reaves ’10 and Anne Lovelace ’09 rounded out Yale’s top five, finishing 92nd (23:31.1) and 98th (23:36.9), respectively.
Despite rainy weather and a muddy course, the women finished three places ahead of their USTFCCCA predicted rank. In the process, they trumped Ivy competitor Dartmouth and nearly defeated Brown.
“We were splashing through things,” Buck said. “But traditionally we run well in the rain — we wanted to use those skills to our advantage.”
The first and second place finishers for the women’s event were Providence and Syracuse, who posted 36 and 90 points, respectively. The two teams will represent New England at the NCAA Championships.
Despite not qualifying for the NCAAs, the men will complete their season on Saturday, Nov. 22, at the IC4A Championships, held at Van Cortlandt Park, like this weekend’s event.
In these events, many of the seniors will step down to let the underclassmen take charge in preparation for their leadership next season, Parella said.
The women will compete at the same venue on the same day at the ECAC Championships, finishing up their fall seasons.