The men’s cross country team will once again compete this weekend without some top runners.

Head coach Dan Ireland, beginning his fourth season with Yale, decided to rest standouts Lucas Meyer ’05, Casey Moriarty ’05, Josh Yelsey ’05, Mark Turner ’06 and Patrick Dantzer ’06 until the Oct. 4 Yale-Harvard meet in Cambridge. These five runners competed for Yale over the summer in England against Oxford and Cambridge until late June, leaving them with inadequate recovery time for the first two fall races.

But if last weekend’s performance at the Georgetown Invitational is any indication, the underclassmen should have no problem filling the gaps. The squad will be split this weekend between the Iona Invitational and Quinnipiac Invitational. Stephen Carden ’07, Nathan Clute ’07, Miles Farmer ’07, Reed Mauser ’05 and Rob Lobue ’04 will race on Friday at the Quinnipiac Invitational in Hamden.

“As a team, we are hoping to finish in the top four,” Ireland said.

Two members of Yale’s contingent in England this summer already are working back into the lineup. Lobue, one of the Ivy League’s top middle-distance runners and the 2004 men’s track captain, will use Quinnipiac’s mostly flat course as a tune-up race after sitting out last week’s Georgetown meet.

“Friday’s race will provide an opportunity for the freshmen and Rob Lobue to get a fast 5 miler under their belts,” said cross country captain Bobby Dwyer ’04, who competed against Oxford and Cambridge and will race at Iona on Saturday.

Joining Dwyer at the formidable Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx are David Napper ’07, Andrew Pitts ’07, Brian Gertzen ’07, Brian Hanak ’07, Wyatt Golding ’06 and Andrew Johnson ’06.

“Everyone is looking great in workouts, so hopefully they will race well,” Yelsey said.

For Dwyer, one of the Ivy League’s top middle-distance runners, Iona will serve as his first race of the season. This weekend also will introduce freshman standouts Napper and Pitts to Van Cortlandt’s 8-kilometer race course. Pitts competed at Van Cortlandt in the Foot Locker Cross Country Regional meet during his high school years, but he has only run on the 5-kilometer race course, not the 8K.

“It’s a great opportunity for the freshmen to get a feel for the course, since most of them haven’t run on Van Cortlandt before,” said Meyer, a top returnee with the potential to be an All-American this season and the winner of the Heptagonal Championship on Oct. 31.

Other than giving freshmen an opportunity to race at Van Cortlandt, the Iona Invitational will offer the Elis their first true test of the season.

“[The Iona Invitational] will give us a chance to gauge where we are among Ivy League Competition,” Yelsey said. “We’re gearing towards a top 3 finish in the Heptagonal conference this season, so it will be good to see where we are.”

With many Ivy League and national caliber teams competing at Iona, the Yale harriers have a tremendous opportunity to measure themselves to teams they will face many times, and on a course they will continually race this season.

“The Iona meet should give us an idea of how fit we are right now and of how much work we need to do before [the Heptagonal Championship], since [the Heptagonal Championship] is run on the same course,” Meyer said.

The Elis’ strong individual performances at the dual Georgetown Invitational race last weekend bode well for the Quinnipiac and Iona invitationals. Yale finished second to nationally ranked No. 13 Georgetown in the dual meet.

“David Napper, Andrew Pitts, and Andy Johnson all ran good races at the Georgetown Invite, and those quality performances should carry over to this weekend,” Dwyer said.

Regardless of the outcomes this weekend, Iona and Quinnipiac will give Ireland a good idea of what his team needs to improve before the Heptagonal Championship. Ireland said this year’s squad has the potential to do great things.

“I am very excited about the team and what they are capable of accomplishing this fall,” Ireland said.