It is settled: next Monday the Yale women’s cross country team will pursue a national championship in Greenville, S.C.
Yale finished fifth with 128 points in the Northeast Regional meet Saturday in Franklin Park, Boston. Although only the top two teams qualified automatically for the championship, Yale gained admittance, along with 13 other teams across the country, on the strength of the team’s regular season performance.
Twin sisters Kate and Laura O’Neill ’03 continued a magical season with their second and fifth place finishes, respectively. Kate’s time was 20:33.30, and Laura followed close behind at 20:49.90.
Yale’s total time in the meet was 1:46:58, which was exactly two minutes more than first place Boston College. Providence came in second with a time of 1:46:48 and also won the men’s division. Brown and Cornell finished third and fourth, respectively.
Yale recently beat all its Ivy opponents and ran away with the Heptagonal Championships in the Bronx, N.Y.
“This race, while a very good effort, doesn’t accurately reflect the potential that our team has. We will have a stronger showing at Nationals,” said Lindsay Mitchell ’03, who placed 39th out of 241 total finishers.
Her teammate, Rebecca Hunter ’04, who finished 56th in Boston, agreed.
“We were disappointed that Brown and Cornell beat us,” she said. “Did we run less well than we had hoped or did other teams run better? It was a combination, probably. We’re suspending judgment and just looking forward to Nationals.”
Mitchell and Hunter will join teammates Melissa Wisner ’05, Alexandra Sawicki ’04, Amanda Brewster ’03, and the O’Neills at Greenville. Kate and Laura qualified independently of the team with their impressive runs at Boston.
Last season, when the team finished seventh at Nationals, Kate finished 31st and Laura finished 32nd.
“I think that they could make the top 25 this year,” said Mark Young, coach of both the men’s and women’s cross country teams.
“This Franklin Park effort was their best race, both in terms of their times and [the runners] they beat.”
Young added that unlike many NCAA sports programs, Division I cross county fields over 290 teams, and many good programs give scholarships in the sport. Therefore, to make Nationals is both a huge challenge and a huge achievement for Yale, which does not award sports scholarships.
The Franklin Park course is 6 kilometers for women and is generally considered to be a “good course” by members of the team. Unlike the course at Heptagonals, there is not too much looping or backtracking built into the race.
The men’s team also placed fifth, but will not race in Greenville. Alexis Surovov ’02 placed 23rd in the 10-kilometer race with a time of 30:53.30. Just three seconds later, Christopher Andrew ’04 crossed the finish line in 24th place.
“It was a great race,” said Andrew. “Alexis probably stayed right where he started. I was picking people off left and right at the end. That was my race plan.”