This weekend the men’s and women’s cross country teams had a rare chance to face their oldest rivals on home turf, and they proved up to the task.
The 25th-ranked women beat Harvard and fell to Princeton, running for the first time in three years at home on the Yale Golf Course. Afterwards, the men extended their winning streak against the Cantabs to four years, defeating them 26-29, in the bi-yearly home meet. Both teams entered the weekend looking to run in strong packs to break apart the other teams. The women seemed more content with their ability to do that than the men, who struggled to maintain composure against a feisty Crimson team.
Men’s captain Patrick Dantzer ’06, who finished third despite a “little bit of a rough stretch,” said felt the team did not follow its early race strategy as well as it could have.
“I was surprised at how close it was,” Dantzer said. “Harvard went out faster than we had expected, and things went about as bad as we could have imagined.”
But strong performances at the top of the roster helped the Elis pull out the win. David Napper ’07 finished second, with a strong time of 25:34.28, followed by Dantzer in third and Erik Brown ’06 in fourth.
Dantzer attributed the win to some runners who picked up the slack of those that did not perform up to par. Leading the pack was Napper, who ran a successful race despite having just returned from an injury.
“I think something that was very significant was the return of Napper,” Dantzer said. “People just don’t realize how good this guy is.”
While the men were able to run a race below expectations and still win, the women had no such room for error against the Tigers, who entered the weekend ranked 16th in the nation. Lindsay Donaldson ’08 finished third, followed by Katie McKinstry ’07 in sixth and Bevin Peters ’09 in seventh. With help from these three runners, the Eli women soundly beat the Crimson. The Cantabs’ top runner, Lindsey Scherf, finished second in 17:06.28 but did not have any support close behind, with the next runner placing 20th.
Despite the strong showings from the core of young Bulldogs, they were unable to keep up with a solid showing from Princeton, which claimed spots eight through 15. Cack Farrell led the Tigers, winning the race with a time of 16:52.94. Captain Lindsay Donaldson, who crossed the finish line at 17:19.66, saw the loss to Princeton as a measuring point rather than a resounding defeat.
“Considering where we are in our training right now, we aren’t too upset that we lost to them,” Donaldson said. “It just means we know we still have a lot of work to do.”
Peters, a rookie, said the race provided her valuable experience against tough competition.
“We did lose to Princeton, which is disappointing on your home course,” Peters said. “But it isn’t the end of the world, obviously. It was really good practice running against a team ranked higher than us.”
Next weekend both teams will head to Boston for the New England Championships, which will be held on the same course as the Northeast Regional Championships on November 11.
The top ten runners will not race, instead practicing on the course to prepare for Regionals and resting before Pre-Nationals, which will be held in two weeks in Terre Haute, Indiana.