Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams came away with eighth place finishes at the Penn State Nationals in State Park, Penn., on Saturday.

The men’s team came into the meet hoping to breach the top five and edge out Cornell and Penn, the other Ivies competing at the race. While Yale finished one place ahead of the Quakers, the Big Red finished in fifth, three spots ahead of the Elis. Jeff Perrella ’11 finished first for the Bulldogs with an eighth place finish among 266 racers from all across the nation, running the over-five-mile course in 25:37. He made his move with half a mile left in the race for the top 10 finish. Julian Sheinbaum ’12 finished after Perrella for 46th place, completing the course in 26:17. Captain Max Walden ’11 and Demetri Goutos ’13 finished 58th and 59th respectively, both in 26:33, and Conor Dooney ’12 rounded out the pack at 68th (26:40).

Because no other Ivy League racers placed better than Perrella in the meet, he said he was confident about the upcoming Ivy League Heptagonal Championships.

“[The Penn State Nationals] was a dress rehearsal,” Perrella said. “We know what went well and we know what did not. We know what we have to do.”

But Goutos said that for the team to do well in Heptagonals, they must be more aggressive.

“We really need to try to take more risks going into it, not focus on how we feel that day or how the rest of the team is doing,” Goutos said. “We need to get out there and get it done.”

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The women’s team aimed to finish in the top 10 and stick together. Although it was very difficult to stay in a tight pack, with over 300 racers competing, Jacque Sahlberg ’12 said they were able to stay close to one another. The first five runners finished within 23 seconds of each other.

Jennifer Downing ’12, the first Bulldog to finish, placed 44th and ran the six-kilometer course in 21:52. Following Downing were Anne Lovelace ’12, who finished 51st overall (22:02), Caitlin Hudson ’13 (58th, 22:11), Melissa Chapman ’14 (62nd, 22:14) and Elizabeth Marvin ’13 (63rd, 22:14).

“We’re making progress in the direction we want to go,” Sahlberg said. “The work we’re doing is starting to pay off.”

The women’s team competes next at the Central Connecticut Mini Meet Oct. 22. Both the men and women will run at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships in New York on Oct. 29.

“[Heptagonals is] where you want everything to pay off and come together,” Sahlberg said. “That’s what we’ve been working for all season.”

In each of the last two Ivy League championships, the men’s team placed seventh and the women’s team placed eighth. Despite their past finishes, Perella said the team is not ruling out a first-place finish.

“That’s why you race — you race to win,” Perrella said. “I think first place isn’t out of the cards. Anything can happen.”