The men’s cross-country team is off to an impressive start this season, beating the Crimson and nearly upsetting the Tigers in the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet — Yale’s first contest of the season. This past weekend, the Bulldogs took seventh out of 23 teams at the Iona Meet of Champions. Runner Max Payson ’16 spoke about cross-country’s impressive start and the next steps in the 2014 season.

Q. Has the season started off in the way that the team has hoped?

A. I’d say so. Our first meet was against Harvard and Princeton. We were hoping to bury Harvard and compete with Princeton since Princeton is currently ranked 19th in the country. We buried Harvard, and lost to Princeton by only one point. While that one point was frustrating and only a matter of seconds, looking at the big picture we almost beat the 19th-ranked team, so that’s pretty sweet. In addition, almost everyone is healthy, training well and progressing, which is always a good sign.

Q. How are the freshman runners this year? Have they made a significant impact so far?

A. The freshmen are great. They are a really talented group and have already begun contributing to the team. Cameron Stanish ’18 was third on the team and Hale Ross ’18 was also in [Yale’s] top seven at the first race, which was great to see. In addition, all the freshmen are running really strong times for their first races at the collegiate distance, so definitely look for some big things from them in the future. Also, last year the running community was talking about how Princeton had the best freshman class in the country, and our freshmen ran circles around them at HYP.

Q. How has the team changed from last year? Has performance improved?

A. Performance has definitely improved. Our workouts are already much faster than last year, and we are competing with nationally ranked teams, which wasn’t the case last year.

Q. What is the team doing to improve moving forward through the season?

A. Well we are running a lot. We are also starting to ramp up the workouts to more intense, race-like paces rather than slower tempo interval work. And of course doing all the little things — crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s.

Q. What is your favorite part about the team’s culture this season?

A. Probably the energy. I think everyone recognizes we have the potential to have some record-breaking performances for our program this season and start competing with the best in our league and the country. It’s contagious and has made training really enjoyable.

Q. What are some season highlights in your mind?

A. Halving Harvard’s score — especially after they beat us last year; watching the freshmen really step it up on race day.

Q. What do you think the team has done best these past few weeks?

A. Crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s. Working hard in workouts and taking it easy and recovering for the next hard day.