women’s cross country team toed the line at the start of the Paul Short Invitational Friday, Liana Epstein ’14 warmed up elsewhere, oblivious to the imminent start. After the starting gun fired, she sprinted to the starting line, running from the back of the 360-women field.

“The start was really hectic,” captain Nihal Kayali ’13 said, laughing. “The gun took us all by surprise.”

Epstein eventually moved through the pack to finish fourth out of the Bulldogs, helping to cap a superb day for both the men’s and women’s cross country squads at Lehigh University. Slogging through muddy conditions, the men scored 255 points and placed seventh out of 37 teams. The women scored 147 points and finished fourth out of 40 teams, earning their first national ranking since September 2005. On Tuesday the Bulldogs were ranked No. 30 in a poll conducted by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association.

Captain Nihal Kayali ’13 paced the Bulldogs, finishing 14th overall with a time of 20:50 on the five-kilometer course. Millie Chapman ’14, Emily Stark ’16 and Epstein followed her closely in 18th, 35th and 39th places, respectively. Elizabeth Marvin ’13, the team’s fifth runner, finished 41st overall and only 24 seconds behind Kayali. The small gap between the times of the team’s first and last-scoring members has been typical of the Elis this season.

“There are always people who will step up and perform,” Kayali said.

The Bulldogs finished in front of sixth-place Providence and seventh-place Villanova, who are ranked seventh and ninth in the country, respectively. Kayali believed that victories over those teams could garner some national recognition for Yale’s team.

Kayali also noted that beating those teams provided a large confidence boost for the team.

“I think we were pretty confident that we’re at the level where we should be competing with nationally ranked teams,” she said. “But of course it was still a pleasant surprise to beat teams that are ranked that highly.”

After a disappointing performance by the men’s team against Harvard two weeks ago, head coach Paul Harkins said that he was very happy with his team’s performance at Lehigh.

“We had some talks after [the Harvard] meet and kind of needed to change things around a little bit,” he said.

The team performed well in its next appearance, overcoming the memory of its defeat against Harvard . Matthew Nussbaum ’15 led the way for Yale, finishing 21st overall with a time of 24:34 on the eight-kilometer course. He was followed closely by Demetri Goutos ’13 in 30th, while Captain Kevin Lunn ’13, Kevin Dooney ’16 and Tim Hillas ’13 rounded out the top five for the Bulldogs. Lunn, Dooney and Hillas finished 61st, 67th and 76th overall, respectively.

According to Lunn, both Nussbaum and Goutos “ran extremely well,” posting times that served as significant personal records. Harkins echoed the sentiment.