The men’s cross-country team placed 17th out of 35 teams at the NCAA Pre-Nationals Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind. Although Yale had hoped to crack the top 15, the Elis’ finish was impressive considering the injuries and illnesses the team has endured over the past few weeks.

“Our goal was to be in the top 15,” head coach Daniel Ireland said. “We had a shot to be as high as 10th. A couple guys got sick, Josh Yelsey was hurt, so looking at it that way, we were fairly happy with our finish.”

Captain Lucas Meyer ’05 was the first Bulldog to cross the finish line. He placed ninth overall with a time of 24:07.9 — just a tenth of a second behind the eighth-place finisher, Josh Rohatinsky of Notre Dame. Casey Moriarty ’05 clocked in at 24:38.2, earning him 35th place.

“We ran great up front,” Yale runner Patrick Dantzer ’06 said. “Luke was unreal, finishing 9th, and Casey was no slouch either. The rest of us ran steady, but not enough to push us higher up in the results.”

Dantzer was the only other Eli to finish in the top 100. His time of 25:14.9 was good for 91st overall.

“Pat Dantzer had one of the best races of his college career coming in 91st with a bad cold,” Moriarty said. “He was coughing and sneezing the whole trip but really gutted out an excellent race.”

Nathan Clute ’07 followed Dantzer with a time of 25:50.8. David Napper ’07 finished with a time of 25:56.6, Andrew Johnson ’06 recorded a 26:00.8 and Josh Yelsey ’05 timed in at 26:28.7. Saturday’s meet consisted of two races, the Blue Race and the White Race. Teams were divided evenly and randomly between the two competitions. Meyer’s time was the 13th best overall.

“Lucas is now a national star,” Ireland said. “With a minute to go in Saturday’s race, he was running with two Olympians. He was the first Heps guy to cross the finish line — I’d say he’s the favorite to win the Ivy League individual title.”

The Elis finished ahead of Brown (18th), Princeton (21st) and Cornell (25th) in the White Race. Out of the Ivy squads that competed in the Blue Race, Columbia finished 16th, Dartmouth came in 17th and Harvard was 26th. Penn did not participate in the pre-nationals. Twenty-five of the top 30 teams in the country competed in Saturday’s race.

The Bulldogs’ next meet is a crucial one. Heptagonals, cross-country’s version of the Ivy League Championships, will take place Oct. 29 at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York.

“The goal for the rest of the season is still to win Heps in two weeks,” Meyer said. “At this point, everything else is secondary.”

Moriarty echoed Meyer’s sentiments.

“The goal now is to take what we have learned from our three races this season and use that experience at Heps,” Moriarty said. “We have had our share of sickness and injury this season, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We have no doubt that we will be ready to race well in two weeks.”