Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled north to New Hampshire for the Dartmouth Invitational, but they came away with different results.
The men’s team came within five points of dethroning the Big Green, who had won the meet on its home course for five consecutive years, and placed second. The women’s team, on the other hand, placed third out of four teams, finishing only five points ahead of last-place Williams.
Both teams, however, had encouraging performances from runners coming off injuries last season.
Sam Lynch ’12, who was not one of the Bulldog’s top 10 runners in last year’s post-season, was the top finisher for the men’s team Saturday, covering the 8-kilometer course in a time of 25:35.06 to place second overall, behind the Big Green’s Ethan Shaw.
“It felt good,” Lynch said. “It was completely unexpected … I only walked on last school year, and I wasn’t doing particularly great. But I have been training incredibly hard.”
The course at the Hanover Country Club, where the meet was held, proved challenging for both the men’s and women’s teams, with an especially vexing hill in the last half-mile.
As they approached the last 800 meters, the men’s team was close to tying the Big Green. Julian Sheinbaum ’12 and captain Max Walden ’11 battled Dartmouth’s runners up the hill to finish side-by-side in fourth (25:39.67) and fifth (25:41.57), respectively. Sheinbaum, who is back after a calf injury ended his freshman season early, was less than two seconds behind the third place finisher from Dartmouth.
Finishing as a pack and rounding out the top seven for the men were Jake McKenzie ’12 in ninth (26:04.11), Sam Kirtner ’13 in 10th (26:11.95), Nathan Richards ’12 in 11th (26:12.62) and Kevin Lunn ’13 in 12th (26:15.22). Kirtner and Lunn are also returning after taking most of last season off due to injury or illness.
Encouraged by their opening meet and with all five top five runners from last year’s Heptagonals and NCAA Regionals returning, the men are looking forward to the rest of the season.
“We have a great crew of guys,” Lynch said. “I think we’ve really started solidifying to have an attitude towards success. We really want to do well this year … We’re going to be aggressive and earn what we deserve.”
On the women’s side, the Bulldogs were off to a great start with Jennifer Downing ’12 leading the first two miles. A wrong turn in the last mile cost her some time, but Downing was able to finish the 3.3 mile-course in 14th, with a time of 20:53.07.
“The lesson learned there is to know the course better next time,” Downing said. “But I think the wrong turn affected me more mentally than physically.”
Elizabeth Marvin ’13, who also suffered through injury last year, led the Bulldogs with a third-place finish of 20:36.15. Anne Lovelace ’12 placed seventh with 20:43.90.
Both teams will make the short trip to Hamden and race in the Quinnipiac Invitational on Saturday.