The men’s cross-country team turned in a fifth-place finish at the Heptagonal Championships Friday at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City.

While the Bulldogs fell short of their team goal of winning the meet, there were some individual bright spots for the Elis. Captain Lucas Meyer ’05 placed second overall, clocking in at 24:39.5 — just four seconds behind Cornell’s Bruce Hyde.

“It was not the team performance that we had hoped for,” Yale head coach Daniel Ireland said. “However, in light of what happened in the middle of the season, the result was not a total surprise. In the sport of cross country, everything has to go right if you are going to win a championship.”

Casey Moriarty ’05 finished fourth overall, making Yale the only team with two top-five finishers. The next Eli to cross the finish line was Patrick Dantzer ’06, who placed 25th with a time of 25:34.1. Josh Yelsey ’05 came in 41st at 26:00.47, while Andrew Pitts ’07 finished 42nd at 26:01.5.

“Because the teams in the Ivy League are so evenly matched this year, we knew going in that to win we would have to run very well across the board,” Meyer said. “Not just a few guys, but 12 guys. Needless to say, we didn’t do that.”

Columbia finished first with 70 points, followed by Dartmouth (79 points), Penn (87 points), Brown (108 points), Yale (114 points), Princeton (116 points), Cornell (145 points) and Harvard (180 points).

“The season has been up and down,” Eli runner Josh Yelsey ’05 said. “Despite a great first six weeks of training, the team has been plagued by injury and illness in October.”

David Napper ’07, Nathan Clute ’07 and Dantzer all battled injuries and sickness throughout the year. Yelsey himself also was sidelined for a week after hurting his knee the day after the race against Harvard Oct. 1.

“You hate to make excuses, but we have many, and, if healthy, we are no worse than third in this league,” Yelsey said.

Despite the team’s disappointing overall finish at Heps, the individual performances of Meyer and Moriarty were noteworthy. For the second straight year, both runners earned first team All-Ivy honors for their performances Friday.

This fall marks the first time in over 25 years that Yale has had two All-Ivy runners in back-to-back seasons. Meyer became the second runner in the history of Yale’s cross-country program to be named to the All-Ivy team three times.

“Individually, both Lucas Meyer and Casey Moriarty have a great shot at qualifying as individuals for the NCAA Championships,” Ireland said. “Meyer qualified as an individual last year.”

The Bulldogs’ next race is Nov. 13, when they will return to Van Cortlandt Park for the NCAA Regionals.

“It’s been a tough season,” Meyer said. “But our attitude is still positive, and we’re ready to show that we’re better than fifth place at Heps in the last two races of the season.”

Coach Ireland echoed Meyer’s sentiments.

“The season so far has been solid but not spectacular,” Ireland said. “Obviously, when our goal at the beginning was to win Heps and we finish fifth, that is not good. But we have had some great individual performances at different races throughout the season and hopefully everyone has their best performance of the season at the NCAA Regionals.”

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