Despite strong races at their last few meets, the men’s and women’s cross country teams left the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships echoing their lackluster performances of the last two years: seventh and eighth palce, respectively.
The No. 18 Princeton women’s team took first place for the fifth year in a row with 33 points. The No. 18 Tiger men’s team also took first, with 33 points, after losing by one point to Columbia last season; it was their fourth win in five years. Dartmouth (55) and Columbia (94) took second and third respectively in the men’s meet, while Columbia took second (60) and Brown third (63) on the women’s side.
Jennifer Downing ’12 said the women’s team, coming off of an eighth place finish at the Penn State Nationals, knew that they had a shot of finishing anywhere from fourth to eighth place. They were aiming especially to place ahead of Penn, which the Bulldogs beat two weeks ago, and Dartmouth, which was ranked 15th to Yale’s eighth in the Northeast region prior to Friday’s meet.
“If you look at our individual performances we ran a strong race, but it never feels good to be last,” Downing said.
Elizabeth Marvin ’13 was the first Bulldog to finish, completing the five-kilometer race in 25th place (18:03.9). Following her were Anne Lovelace ’12 in 33rd (18:20.3), Melissa Chapman ’14 in 38th (18:27.2), Downing in 40th (18:29.8) and Jacque Sahlberg ’13 in 52nd (18:38.5). Of the top seven Bulldogs racing, six had their best race of the season.
“No one bombed the race,” Downing said. “We ran the race [that] we were in shape to run.”
Downing said the results were especially disappointing given that this was Coach Mark Young’s ’68 last Heptagonal Championships.
“We can’t be too down on ourselves because we raced hard, we raced well and we put it all out there,” he said. “We just wished that what we placed was a better reflection of the progress and work we put in this season.”
Princeton won the meet by a significant margin; their fifth runner finished 11th overall. Princetonian Alex Banfich finished first with 16:58.9.
The men’s team was also disappointed in their seventh place finish. According to Matt Thwaites ’13, the team expected to “get on the podium” or, at the very least, finish within the top half, something they considered a “fairly achievable goal.”
The Bulldogs placed ahead of only Brown, losing to teams they had beaten earlier in the season, such as Penn and Harvard.
“We learned not to take anything for granted,” Thwaites said. “There is really no given until you cross the finish line. That’s not the way it panned out. In hindsight, we should have just gone for it.”
Jeff Perrella ’11 had a career-best meet. Breaking his personal record, Perrella finished first for the Bulldogs and broke into the top 10 overall, completing the eight-kilometer race in 24:44.3 and placing ninth. Captain Max Walden ’11 placed 26th (25:14.8), Julian Sheinbaum ’12 placed 35th (25:27.7), Conor Dooney ’12 placed 40th (25:37.1) and Demetri Goutos ’13 placed 45th (25:40.8).
As in the women’s race, Princeton both won the meet and boasted the leading racer, Donn Cabral, who finished in 24:03.8.
“The season’s not over, and that’s important to remember,” Chris Scavone ’11 said.
The men’s and women’s teams will next race at the NCAA regional championships in Madison, Conn,, on November 13. At the meet, the Elis will again compete against all the other Ivies except Penn and Princeton.
“We have to continue working as hard as we’ve been working,” Downing said. “Our team has been on an upward trend since the beginning of the season, but we’re not there yet.”
At the NCAA meet, both teams hope to redeem themselves for their disappointing performances in the Heptagonal Championships.
“We must not get down, stay positive and believe in our fitness and training,” Thwaites added. “We know we’re way ahead of where we were in the past, so we have to go out and get revenge.”