The women’s cross country dashed to the best finish its members have ever experienced at regional championships this weekend, while the men matched last year’s performance at the same race.
Both men and women battled blustery conditions at their final race of the season at the NCAA Regional Championships. The women secured their highest finish in six years — sixth in a field of 36 teams — and the men’s team ended up 11th out of 33 to match last year’s position. Performances by Liana Epstein ’14 and Elizabeth Marvin ’13 earned them spots on the All-Northeast team.
“We came in knowing what we needed to do, and everyone stepped up,” said Anne Lovelace ’12, captain of the women’s team.
Liana Epstein ’14 led the women’s team with an 11th place finish overall. Her time of 21:05.2 on the 6k course was her personal best, matching her time from September’s Paul Short Invitational exactly. Two juniors followed close behind Epstein — Elizabeth Marvin ’13 and Nihal Kayali ’13 finished 17th and 32nd respectively.
Epstein said the team’s excellent finish was thanks to the strength the team had built over the season.
“I think we overall had a phenomenal day,” Epstein said. “We’ve been progressing all season, building on momentum every race. Everyone had a good day.”
At the end of her first season as head coach of the women’s team, Amy Gosztyla said she was extremely proud of the strides the team made over last year’s 11th place finish at Regionals. She said that before the race she estimated that with a strong performance, the team could finish anywhere between fourth and eighth place, and she added that she was happy with sixth.
On the men’s side, first year head coach Paul Harkins said he was a bit disappointed with the team’s 11th-place finish given that the team had been improving in other races over how it had done in the past. Last month, the team placed sixth at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships — Yale’s highest standing in five years.
Kevin Lunn ’13 logged a team best 32:58.2 on the 10,000-meter course for a 68th place finished over all. But he said he thought both he and the rest of the team could have run a better race.
“I thought the race was okay,” Lunn said. “But on the whole, we were a little disappointed about how we did as a team. I don’t think we ran up to our potential.”
Captain Nathan Richards ’12 added that because the team was seeded 10th going into regionals, the 11th-place finish “wasn’t what we wanted it to be.”
Even though neither team qualified for NCAA National Championships, members of both squads reflected positively on the season and expressed hope for the upcoming years.
Lovelace said this season was the best she had experienced during her four years at Yale.
“The team gets together really well, and there is a level of work ethic that I haven’t seen come together for the whole team in a while,” Lovelace said. “It’s an exciting time to be part of Yale cross country.”
Lovelace added that the team has a lot of young talent. While the women’s team is not graduating any top five scorers, the men’s team will lose two, seniors Richards and Julian Sheinbaum ’12. Nevertheless, Harkins said he is optimistic for the future of the men’s team and hopes to finish in the top five at Regionals next fall.
But Lunn said he would be pleased if the men’s team improved the same amount as the women’s team had this year and finished sixth, rather than 11th at next year’s Regionals.
“The women’s team is the team we want to match,” Lunn said. “We are looking to improve in that same way in terms of consistency.”
The meet was held at the Audubon Golf Course in Buffalo, N.Y.
Correction: Aug. 29
An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of men’s cross country head coach Paul Harkins.