This autumn, the men’s cross country program appears to be divided.

Coach Dan Ireland sent his younger runners to the Sept. 13 Georgetown Invitational, leaving his more experienced harriers behind in New Haven to rest. And this past weekend, the men’s cross country 18-man roster split into three squads.

On Friday, five runners competed at the Quinnipiac Invitational in Hamden. On Saturday, eight teammates raced at the Iona Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. And the team’s five top returnees (Lucas Meyer ’05, Casey Moriarty ’05, Josh Yelsey ’05, Mark Turner ’06 and Patrick Dantzer ’06) continued resting from their summer competition in England. They finally will rejoin the squad this weekend in Cambridge, Mass., for the Yale-Harvard race.

Splitting the team between the Quinnipiac and Iona invitationals yielded mixed results on a weekend that benefitted the host schools.

At the Iona Meet of Champions, Yale placed No. 11 of the 19 teams overall with 279 points.

Iona College’s 37 points were good enough for the host school to win the race. In cross country, the team with the fewest points wins.

Of the Ivy League teams competing, Yale finished fourth, ahead of Harvard. Dartmouth, Brown and Cornell also competed. Yale faces Harvard again this weekend.

David Napper ’07 had a standout performance, finishing No. 19 in the hilly five-mile course. His 26:03.7 time places him sixth all-time as a Yale freshman runner.

Yale’s top five finishers all placed in the top 75. Andrew Pitts’ ’07 time of 26:56.3 placed him No. 59, Andrew Johnson’s ’06 time of 27:03.3 placed him No. 62, captain Robert Dwyer’s ’04 time of 27:14.8 placed him No. 67, and Brian Hanak’s ’07 time of 27:23.0 placed him No. 74.

Yale’s results at the Quinnipiac Invitational were less impressive. Rob Lobue ’04 fell late in the race, earning Yale an incomplete and preventing the Elis from receiving a team score.

To receive a team score, a college must have five runners complete a race; Yale only entered five at the Quinnipiac Invitational, and just four finished.

Ireland said he had expected the team to finish in the top four in Hamden.

“I am pleased with the runners, especially the freshmen,” Ireland said. “It was their first five-mile race, and they did well.”

The University of Connecticut won the Quinnipiac Invitational with 26 points. Quinnipiac University’s 32 points were good enough for second place overall in the nine-team race.

Nathan Clute ’07 led the Elis with his 27:36.9, placing 18th. Rounding out Yale’s performances were Stephen Carden ’07, 23rd, Miles Farmer ’07, 25th, and Reed Mauser ’05, 27th.

Ireland said the upcoming tournament at Harvard’s Franklin Park is “the big one.” Although Yale is the “favorite going in,” Ireland said Yale still faces “a tough battle.” Neither Yale nor Harvard entered its best lineup in the tune-up Iona Invitational this weekend.

Yale beat Harvard last year to win the Main Memorial Trophy. The Harvard race is also the first time the entire Yale roster will compete together.