The men’s cross country team kicked off the new season with a solid performance at Georgetown this Saturday. The Elis finished fourth behind Duke, Georgetown and American University and outran only James Madison University.

Many of the younger Bulldog runners gained valuable race experience at The Plains, while most upperclassmen stayed in Connecticut to finish training.

“It was a relatively small race, a four-miler over hills and through fields,” Joe Kingsbery ’08 said. “In general, it was a great season opener for us, we sat out a bunch of the top guys, and those of us who ran got a good sense of where we are training-wise.”

Captain Lucas Meyer ’05, who did not travel to Virginia, was very encouraged by Saturday’s results.

“The freshmen had good, competitive first races,” Meyer said. “The race was a good start for our season and a great opportunity for a bunch of the guys to gain experience.”

Kingsbery turned in the strongest performance of the day for the Elis, finishing 13th overall.

“Joe ran really well in the first college race of his career,” Casey Moriarty ’05 said. “He was the first Yale runner to cross the finish line and beat some talented runners. It is one thing to train, but another thing to race and I think the guys did a great job of being tough and competing against other teams.”

The Bulldogs face high expectations this year. Head coach Dan Ireland leads a squad that finished third at last year’s Ivy League Heptagonal Championships and fourth at the NCAA District Qualifier. Meyer, Yale’s lone NCAA Individual Championship representative, finished 102nd in the race. The Elis also had three all-Ivy athletes on the team in 2003.

Meyer returns with a strong cast of upperclassmen, including Moriarty and Josh Yelsey ’05, all of whom were consistent top-four finishers for Yale last year. Moriarty was the 2003 IC4A Cross Country champion, running a sub-25:00 at Van Cortlandt Park. He also finished in seventh place at Heps. Yelsey is another potential all-Ivy runner and will provide veteran leadership on the team. Kingsbery is one of five freshmen who join an excellent group of sophomores on a strong underclass side.

With so many experienced upperclassmen and talented freshmen, the Elis are in prime position to be very successful this year.

“We are all really excited about this season,” Moriarty said. “This is far and away the best cross country team I have seen in my four years at Yale. What separates this team is not only the talent, but our confidence in ourselves. As long as everyone can stay healthy, we have a chance to surprise a lot of teams. It’s going to be a fun season.”

The Bulldogs look to be in good shape as they shift into full gear. Yale’s next race is Sept. 24 at the Quinnipiac Invitational in Hamden, Conn. The first race with the full team will be at Lehigh in the Paul Short Invitational the following day. But the Elis are looking even farther down the road, setting their sights set on qualifying for the NCAA Championships and winning the Heps.

“This is the best team I’ve ever been on, so I wouldn’t put it past us,” Patrick Dantzer ’06 said. “This season is about running fast and beating people.”