After their opening meet at Dartmouth earlier this month, the men’s and women’s cross country teams headed to Hamden on Saturday to compete in the Quinnipiac Invitational.
The women finished third with the minimum of five runners needed to compete as a team, but it was the men who stole the show. All four Bulldogs placed in the top 10, including first-place finisher Chris Scavone ’11, who finished the eight-kilometer course in 26:23.
For the nine runners in action, this was the first race of the season, and for the three freshmen that competed, it was the first race of their collegiate careers. Both the men’s and women’s teams were small in size to give those who did not run at Dartmouth a chance to compete before the next meet.
Scavone, who battled injury last year, is looking to treat this year, his last, as a fresh start. He said head coach Dan Ireland gave him some advice before the meet.
“[Ireland said], ‘This is your last chance to start off on a good note. Run hard and don’t overdo it,’ ” Scavone said.
Though the team was confident going into the meet, Scavone’s strategy changed when, instead of working for a push later in the race, he found himself in the front at the beginning.
“Game-playing went out of the window in the beginning,” Scavone said. “It was a good exercise in focus and staying in control. No race ever goes the way you think it’s going to go from the start.”
Immediately following Scavone was Michael Cunetta ’14, who came in second in 26:50. David Demres ’12 came in fourth (27:04), and James Wyper ’11 rounded off the team in 10th place (27:43). Stonehill won the invitational and host Quinnipiac placed second.
According to Cunetta, the course itself was “a little silly at times,” with tight and very tough turns, but he said having the rest of the men’s team show up to cheer them on made the race fun.
The women’s team had five runners compete, the minimum number needed to place as a team, and finished third. With such a small team, the Bulldogs were at a disadvantage compared with the larger rosters of Quinnipiac, which won the invitational, and Stonehill, which came in second. Two freshmen led the team: Clare Kane ’14 finished the five-kilometer course in ninth place (19:12) and Wendy DeWolf ’14 in 25th (19:59). Kristin Johnson ’12 and Phoebe Gaston ’13 finished in 36th and 37th place, respectively, and Celia Stockwell ’11 finished off the team in 44th.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have home meets Friday, when the men host Harvard and the women will race against both the Crimson and the Princeton Tigers
Women’s team captain Liya Assefa ’11 said she is looking forward to the meet against the archrivals, as it is the first time the team will race as a whole body, rather than split up in two separate groups.
“We’ll all get to go out there and compete together,” Assefa said.
The upcoming meet poses a challenge, as Princeton is nationally ranked, Assefa said. But the Elis are excited to compete and “run with Yale pride,” she added.
The men’s team feels more confident: Scavone said he hopes to beat Harvard on Friday in his final try and “walk out with a win.”
“Everyone put in an incredible effort over the summer,” he said. “We’re looking better than we’ve ever looked.”
Cunetta added: “I just want to beat a lot of Harvard guys, run fast, have fun, and really, really push myself to the limit.”