The men’s and women’s cross country teams are looking to a new coaching staff this season as they seek to improve on their poor performances — seventh and eighth respectively — at last year’s Ivy League Championships.
This is the first season since 1981 that Mark Young ’68 will not be coaching a Yale cross country team. After Young retired at the end of last year, Coach David Shoehalter, former men’s head coach, became the Mark T. Young ’68 Director of Cross Country and Track and Field. With the change, Paul Harkin will take over Shoehalter’s role as the men’s head coach, while Amy Gosztyla will serve as the new women’s head coach.
Harkin was just hired on August 29 and is not currently on campus, but he is set to arrive next Monday.
“It will be a change, but a change for the good,” men’s captain Nathan Richards ’12 said.
Shoehalter announced that Gosztyla, who spent her last three years
as an assistant coach at Harvard, would assume the role of head women’s cross country and middle distance coach earlier this month. In a press release, Shoehalter explained that he was impressed with Gosztyla’s coaching style when the Bulldogs and the Crimson travelled to the U.K. for the annual Yale-Harvard vs. Oxford-Cambridge meet.
“[Gosztyla] brings an enthusiasm to practice every day that makes you happy to be there,” Jacque Sahlberg ’13 said. “Her passion for the sport is obvious and contagious. She’s making the transition really easy.”
Though the women’s team is losing several cross country veterans, including last year’s captain Liya Assefa ’11 and Celia Stockwell ’11, many of the Bulldogs’ frontrunners are still participating this season. In fact, the first five finishers in both the Heptagonal Championships and NCAA Northeast Regional Championships last year are returning, including this year’s captain Anne Lovelace ’12.
This season, the men will be without standout runner Jeff Perrella ’11, who graduated last year. Perrella became the first Yale runner to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championship since 2004 last season. This year, teammates hope to fill his shoes with stronger team performances.
“We have a lot of great guys who worked hard over the summer,” captain Nathan Richards ’12 said. “Rather than one individual, we have a solid core team. We are in better shape as a group.”
The men’s team has added seven freshmen to its roster while the women’s team has added four. Because of NCAA regulations, those 11 freshmen will not be able to practice with the team until Thursday. Still, Julian Sheinbaum ’12 said it was a good recruiting year.
“I’m really looking forward to this season,” Sheinbaum said. “We are really committed to the team. It’s a really exciting time for a fresh start and to do some new things this year.”
The teams’ first meet will take place at Harvard on September 17.