In its first meet of the season, the men’s cross country team got a good look at its new members.

For the Bulldogs, Georgetown’s Great Meadows Invitational Sept. 10 in The Plains, Va. was a pleasant run through the high grass of the northern Virginia countryside. The event was rookie-heavy because most veteran runners forgo racing this early in the season in order to maintain their training regimens. But although five of the Bulldogs’ eight runners were freshmen, Yale’s best result came from Erik Brown ’06, who clocked in at 21:33:00 to place 13th in the 4.1 mile race.

The Elis finished third in a field of six, behind Georgetown and American universities.

“At this point in the season, we’re still trying to improve our fitness,” captain Pat Dantzer ’06 said. “The freshmen never run this distance — it’s nice for them to get a race under their belts.”

Collegiate cross country has a few notable differences from high school racing. Most importantly, the races are generally longer, with most college courses measuring around two miles longer than high school courses.

Jared Bell ’09, who was Yale’s second finisher at around 21:40:00, said that the race taught him a lot about what to expect in college action.

“The adjustment is pretty difficult,” Bell said. “The key is getting used to longer workouts at a higher intensity. More intense workouts at longer distances will give me the endurance I need.”

In addition, Bell said, college racing requires more strategy than high school racing. When a race is only three miles, he said, runners can focus on going hard the entire time. However, when the race is five miles, it is impossible to maintain that level of intensity. Bell said that learning to pace himself will be the key adjustment.

Dantzer said that although most of the Bulldogs stayed home to train, the weekend was an important benchmark for the team.

“We didn’t change our training for this race — they just went out and ran,” Dantzer said. “It’s a good chance for us to see what [the freshmen] can do.”

Eric Kerchberger ’08, who raced in the meet, said he agreed.

“There were a lot of new freshmen racing in the meet,” Kerchberger said. “A lot of it was seeing where we are at in the season. It was a check up meet for everybody.”

Dantzer emphasized the need for the team to put in the time early on in the season for training.

“In training, we try to keep the mileage high, keep the workouts intense, and make sure to take care of the little things to stay healthy,” he said. “Right now, we’re putting in all the work.”