After a strong showing at the Iona Meet of Champions and a weekend of rest and recovery, the men’s cross-country team continued to prove its strength and capabilities Saturday at the Paul Short Invitational, hosted by Lehigh University.
Ten Bulldogs ran in the “gold” race, competing against 47 other schools including Ivy rivals Harvard, Penn, Brown, Dartmouth and Cornell The Bulldogs finished seventh overall, placing behind only Indiana, Dartmouth, Georgetown, Harvard, Iowa State and La Salle, respectively.
“We continue getting better week to week,” Kevin Dooney ’16 said. “In our workouts we are building up and prepping for the big teams. We are always setting high standards to reach for our goals … Running is an objective sport, and we know we have to be faster than [our competitors].”
Yale also faced USTFCCA top 20 nationally ranked Georgetown, Indiana and Iona.
Five Bulldogs set personal records in this race. This included top five Yale finishers Dooney, who lead the Bulldogs in 29th overall with a time of 24:38, John McGowan ’15 in 38th in 24:44 and Duncan Tomlin ’16, who placed 64th in 25:01. Outside Yale’s top five, but also setting personal bests, James Randon ’17 placed 71st in 25:07, and Andre Ivankovic ’17 recorded a time of 25:21 for 92nd.
Filling out the Bulldogs’ top five were Alex Connor in 57th with a time of 24:55 and Isa Qasim in 69th at 25:06.
After making a considerable improvement from a 19th place finish in 2011 to seventh in 2012, the Bulldogs entered the Paul Short Invitational this year looking to hold or exceed their position from last season. They nearly did just that: the squad equaled its seventh place finish from last year, just two points shy of its total of 255 points from last year.
In the two weeks following the Iona meet and leading up to the Paul Short invitational, the Bulldogs focused hard on their training.
Rest and recovery also played a key role for the Elis this weekend, as they were competing for their first time in 14 days.
“[This past week] we took more recovery time to prepare for such a big race on a pretty flat course,” Ivankovic said. “This course allows a lot of people to run quick times.”
A third of the way through their season, each of the Eli runners has found his position on the team regarding pace and times.
Workouts are now geared toward tight “pack” running, which will translate to the actual trail, ideally in the front of the field. Sticking together in groups throughout the race increases overall team scoring success, and as teammates in a pack push each other on, each individual’s drive to the finish is increased.
“To be a successful cross-country runner you have to [be able to] push your body to the limit,” McGowan said. “This is a competitive team environment, and you are training every day with the same group of guys. When you doubt yourself, think about your teammates running next to you.”
McGowan continued to explain how the Bulldogs consider the Paul Short Invitational as the beginning of their competitive racing season.
“We start ramping up the workouts, setting a race pace speed,” he said. “The first part of the season is [dedicated to] pace building, but now our workouts will be getting faster and more intense.”
With six meets still ahead, including those that are the most important of the season in regards to being on the national scale, the Bulldogs will be seeing many of these teams again soon.
That in mind, the goal is to beat the teams that beat them earlier in the season — such as Harvard, who defeated the Elis at their season-opening duel meet.
“In the end,” Dooney said, “it’s that Yale jersey you are wearing that you are working so hard for.”
On Saturday, Oct. 12, both the men’s and women’s squads will be competing in the New England Championships at Boston’s Franklin Park.