For the cross country program, this fall brought high expectations. Both the men’s and women’s teams expected to improve on last season’s performances, but to different degrees. The men’s team hoped that a sizeable freshman class would help the Bulldogs forget last season’s disappointments, while the women runners had their eyes fixed on bettering their seventh place finish at the NCAA Championships last year.

The men’s squad opened the season Sept. 21 with an eighth place finish at Great American Cross-Country Festival in Charlotte, N.C. Two weeks later, the Bulldogs lost to Harvard by 17 points, a disappointing result on Yale’s new home course. At the New England Championships Oct. 12, Yale finished third, behind Providence College and Harvard. Neither race saw exceptional performances, but the Bulldogs ran as expected.

With three races remaining, the men’s team’s goal of finishing in the top half of the Ivy League remains within sight. But the team’s top runners — Surovov, Eric Klein ’02, John Reindl ’03, Chris Andrew ’04 and Lucas Meyer ’05 — will have to push themselves into the next gear for a successful end to the season.

The women’s squad continues to turn in impressive performances. Ranked No. 22 in the nation, the team placed third at the Iona Meet of Champions to open the season, and dominated both Princeton and Harvard to capture the H-Y-P crown two weeks later. Last weekend, the Bulldogs met the nation’s best at the NCAA Pre-Nationals in Furman, S.C., and held their own.

The women began the season with the goals of winning Heptagonals, qualifying for the NCAA Championships, and improving on last year’s result, which was the team’s highest since 1987. Led by Kate O’Neill ’03 and Laura O’Neill ’03, the Bulldog’s times are faster than those of last season, meaning Yale’s goals are well within reach. But the performances of Yale’s other top runners, including captain Millie Grinstead ’02, Amanda Brewster ’03 and Alexandra Sawicki ’04, will determine just how high the team finishes this season.