The Yale men’s and women’s cross-country teams will kick off the season this Friday on the Yale University Golf Course at 4:15 p.m. with their first meet.
Competing against the Harvard and Princeton cross-country teams, Yale cross-country athletes hope to start off the season with positive momentum. The men’s cross-country team is currently ranked fifth in the Northeast region, while the women’s squad is ranked 13th.
“We have focused the past few years on a positive culture of runners,” women’s cross-country head coach Amy Gosztyla said. “We are continuing to train and are always focusing on moving up.”
Both the men’s team head coach Paul Harkins and Gosztyla are in their fourth years as head coaches. This cross-country season is the first in which both coaches are working with a team whose athletes they have been coaching since their freshman seasons. This year’s cross-country teams are also young, with the team bringing in a significant number of athletes from the class of 2018.
“The team has gotten stronger over the years. Coach Gosztyla gives individualized training and checks in with all the runners on a daily basis,” said Hannah Alpert ’15, the women’s cross-country team captain. “Our team dynamics have changed.”
When asked what meet they were most anticipating, both Harkins and Gosztyla mentioned the Ivy League Heptagonal championships, which will occur on Nov. 1, 2014. Harkins said that the men’s team has ambitions to be one of the top teams in the nation.
Beyond the regional competitions, the Yale cross-country teams are also looking to compete in larger competitions such as the national NCAA championships, Harkins said.
“As the season moves on, the competitions get more intense but also become more exciting,” Kevin Dooney ’16 said.
In the move toward competing on the national level, one of the focuses for both teams has been on building the team camaraderie so runners can push and encourage each other, said members of both teams. According to John McGowan ’15, the men’s team captain, long runs during practices always allow team members to learn more about each other. Alpert added that getting to see teammates and running together is a great encouragement for getting to practice, whether early in the morning or late in the evening.
In a sport that focuses on training mileage, Yale’s men clock on average 60 to 95 miles a week, and Yale’s women cover 30 to 75 miles a week for a majority of the calendar year, according to members of the two teams.
“Running is a life style. These athletes choose to be in season fall, winter and spring,” Gosztyla said. “I am fortunate to work with these hardworking and dedicated kids.”
Yale hosts a home meet once every two years.