CROSS COUNTRY: Change of venue and bad weather do not stop Elis

What was supposed to be a routine season-ending meet before the Ivy League Championships turned into an unexpected logistical challenge for the men’s and women’s cross country teams this weekend.

At 5 a.m. Friday, while many Yalies were still sleeping soundly (or were about to go to bed), the cross country teams were waking up in State College, Pa., to find three inches of snow covering the Blue-White Golf Course where the Penn State National Invitational was to be held. A few hours later, fearing that snow-weighted tree branches might fall on runners, officials canceled the morning’s race. They instead made the decision to create an impromptu meet at nearby Lock Haven University, where 18 of the original 29 teams traveled to compete later that day.

After a chaotic morning of venue and time changes, the men’s team pulled a strong third-place finish with 77 points. The women finished 11th in a competitive field, with nationally ranked West Virginia winning the race.

“When we got on the bus, we had mentally gotten ready to go at that point,” Matt Bogdan ’11 said. “Fast-forward two hours and we’ve got to start the process all over. It was something I’ve never had to deal with before.”

Lock Haven, which regularly holds cross country races, accommodated the transition smoothly. The women’s 6k race was moved to 2 p.m. and the men’s 8k to 2:45 p.m. instead of the original 11 a.m. and 10 a.m. start times, giving the snow a chance to clear up and the runners time to mentally prepare.

“The weather made the race much more a test of toughness than anything else,” captain Chris Labosky ’10 said. “It wasn’t necessarily the guys who were the most fit who ran the best, but the guys who could put their heads down and gut it out for five miles. It was a much more psychologically demanding race than it would have been in ideal conditions.”

On the men’s side, Cornell may have won with 48 points, but the Bulldogs were right behind them.

Jeff Perrella ’11, Yale’s top finisher, came in second with a time of 25:11, a mere five seconds behind Cornell’s top runner. Other top finishers for the Elis included Bogdan (11th in 25:40), Conor Dooney ’12 (14th in 25:47), Julian Sheinbaum ’12 (18th in 25:49) and Max Walden ’11 (32nd in 26:14).

For the women, Nihal Kayali ’13 was the Bulldogs’ top runner with a time of 22:25. She was followed closely by teammates Anne Lovelace ’12 (22:35), Elizabeth Marvin ’13 (22:54), Stephanie Pearl ’10 (22:55) and Alexandra Cadicamo ’10 (22:59). Although they, too, fell to Ivy League rival Cornell, the same optimistic sentiment was expressed.

“So far everyone has had at least one good race,” Marvin said. “Now we just have to get them all on the same day at Heps!”

“Heps” is the Heptagonal Championships, to be held in Van Cortlandt Park, N.Y., on Oct. 30. This annual meet, next on the Bulldogs’ schedule, will pit all eight Ivies against one another in a battle for cross country dominance.

Although the Elis will face tough competition, they are not focused on any single rival.

“At the moment they’re all looking really strong,” Kayali said.

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