Running at the Course at Yale, the men’s and women’s cross-country teams open their new seasons against some old, familiar foes.
The Elis hosted Harvard and Princeton in the annual HYP meet. In addition to beginning the season, the event also marked Princeton’s return to the meet — the first time since 2011 for the women and 1998 for the men.
Both Yale teams placed second, beating Harvard by considerable margins, but falling to Princeton. The men finished the 8-kilometer meet with 32 points, just one point shy of Princeton’s 31, while Harvard trailed far behind with 68 points. In their 5-kilometer race, the women also defeated Harvard by a large margin — 47 points compared to Harvard’s 68 — though the Elis finished well behind Princeton, which finished with 21 points.
“The first meet can never tell you how the season is going to go, but we couldn’t have asked for better,” men’s captain John McGowan ’15 said. “It was the first time we’ve beaten Harvard since I’ve been here. We lost to Princeton by a point, but they’re ranked nationally, so we can’t complain.”
Kevin Dooney ’16 led the men with a second-place finish overall with a time of 24:26, while Duncan Tomlin ’16 placed fourth overall and freshman standout Cameron Stannish ’18 came in fifth.
McGowan attributed part of the team’s success to the fact it didn’t lose many contributing members from last season. The team returned seven of its top eight runners, including its whole top five. He added that he was pleasantly surprised that freshmen Stannish and Hale Ross placed in Yale’s top seven.
Head coach Paul Harkins said the team believes in itself more than it has in the past.
“[Confidence] used to be an issue when we’d step to line,” Harkins said. “But now the team is realizing it can go head-to-head with teams in our league.”
Members of the women’s team were equally pleased with the effort, and rose from No. 13 to No. 7 in the NCAA Division-I Cross-Country team rankings for the northeast region. The jump was the second-largest of any team this week.
Kira Garry ’15 set the pace for the Bulldogs, coming in first overall with a time of 17:32. The next runner was right on her heels, coming in just over six seconds behind.
“We were definitely the underdogs,” Garry said. “Harvard and Princeton didn’t expect us to do anything. My coach and I had talked about going for the win, and I felt confident and believed I could do it.”
Rounding out Yale’s top five for the women were Sami Glass ’18, Emily Waligurski ’17, Emily Stark ’16 and Dana Klein ’15, who placed sixth, eleventh, fourteenth and fifteenth overall, respectively.
With the new season, the team graduated four seniors, but gained thirteen freshmen. Team captain Hannah Alpert ’15 was unsure of how the team gained so many recruiting spots, but added it would be crucial this season to integrate the freshmen.
“We knew coming in that we had good freshman, but this was first chance to go all out, and we had three freshmen in the top seven,” said Alpert. “It wasn’t necessarily unexpected [that they performed well], we just didn’t know what to expect.”
After the meet, both teams said they are looking to decrease time between runners’ finishing times, specifically within the top seven. Members of both teams also said they were looking to improve their pack-running skills, which helps with pacing during meets.
Women’s head coach Amy Gosztyla added that the women’s team’s biggest weakness is age, as the squad is heavily made up of underclassmen. Both teams noted there was much room for improvement, but that both teams have the potential to achieve their goals.
Alpert said she hopes the team will continue to rise in the rankings and place in the top half of the Ivy League Cross-Country Championships in November. McGowan echoed the same sentiment, though a bit bolder.
“We haven’t won the Championships since 1942, and this is probably the best chance to win it,” he said. “We’ve also never been to nationals and can change that this year.”
Both teams will next compete at the Iona Meet of Champions at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y. on Sept. 20.
Correction: Sept. 18
A previous version of this article misstated the class year of Duncan Tomlin ’16. It also incorrectly stated the number of seconds Kira Garry ’15 won her race by.