The Yale men’s and women’s cross country teams concluded their fall seasons this past Saturday at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships.
Amid wet and muddy conditions, the men’s team finished ninth out of 36 teams, while the women’s team took 15th out of 35.
The men’s squad entered the meet ranked 13th in the region by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, but was able to overcome an injury to Conor Dooney ’12 to crack the top-10 at the meet Saturday.
Dooney, who had to drop out midway through the race because of an irritated hip flexor, has consistently finished atop the Yale team all season and earned second team all-Ivy honors at the Ivy League championships on Oct. 30th.
Dooney came into the race hurt, but attempted to compete anyway.
“I probably shouldn’t have even been in the race in the first place, to be honest,” he said. “The conditions were not very well suited to being hurt, with all the slipping and sliding, so I pulled out at about two and a half miles, when I saw that there was nothing I could do to help the team.”
Still, the Bulldogs hung on in the 10-kilometer race, led by Jeff Perrella’s ’11 28th place finish. Perella just missed out on making the all-Region team, which is awarded to the top-25 finishers. Jake McKenzie ’11 and Matt Bogdan ’11, who finished in 59th and 60th place, respectively, as well as Max Walden ’11, Julian Sheinbaum ’12 and Nathan Richards ’12, rounded out Yale’s team at the regional championships.
In what may be an encouraging sign for fans who are looking forward to The Game this coming Saturday, Yale narrowly edged out Harvard, who finished one spot behind Yale in 10th place.
“It was nice to beat Harvard,” Dooney said. “I think if I wouldn’t have been hurt we would have definitely beaten Cornell[which finished in 7th place], and probably come in sixth or seventh. But it’s nice to know what we could do and what we did do.”
The Crimson finished in sixth-place, one spot ahead of Yale, at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships two weeks ago in New York City.
The women’s team, meanwhile, could not crack the top 10 but finished in 15th with 474 points in its six-kilometer race.
Anne Lovelace ’12, who just broke the 24-minute mark, was Yale’s top finisher with a time of 23:58. She was followed by Liya Assefa ’11, Nihal Kayali ’13, Alexandra Cadicamo ’10 and Stephany Pearl ’10, all of whom finished within 10 seconds of each other, with captain Stephany Reaves ’10 and Caitline Hudson ’13 rounding out the rest of Yale’s seven runners.
Reaves expressed some disappointment with the results of the race.
“On the one hand, it was somewhat encouraging that we finished in the top 15 after not having been ranked that highly all season,” she said. “All in all, though, our team didn’t really run to our potential. It’s a bittersweet ending.”
Reaves did note that the conditions made the race more difficult than most. In addition to the rain, there had been eight high school races and the men’s race before the start of the women’s meet.
“The spirit of cross-country means that the conditions don’t really matter, though, because everyone’s in them,” Reaves noted. “It was definitely a memorable way to end the season.”
The captain expressed optimism for the team’s future prospects, adding that there is a lot of potential in the freshman class. She also noted that much of the team’s sophomore class was injured this season.
Kayali said she sees the race as an excellent learning experience.
“It was a completely foreign experience for me to be slogging through mud for six kilometers, I had never raced in rain before,” the native Californian said. “With all the distractions of mud and people falling in front of me, I couldn’t even pay attention to the fact that I wasn’t running well.”
Kayali echoed the sentiment that the team has a strong future ahead of it.
“Now we have experience of running at regionals,” she said. “We train really well, and we just have to turn that into good races. The only way from here is up.”
Syracuse won both the men’s and women’s races, which was hosted by Boston University and took place at Franklin Park, the largest park in Boston.