After finishing second to Princeton in their first meets of the season, the men’s and women’s cross-country teams were back in action at the 20th Annual Iona Meet of Champions in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y. this past weekend.
Both teams had solid showings, even with the top performers on each team taking a break from competition to rest. The women’s team placed second out a field of 20, while the men earned seventh out of 23 teams. Captain John McGowan ’15 said that running the course now gave Yale experience that could prove useful later this year.
“We’ll run [at Van Cortlandt] again at regionals, though that’s a slightly different [10-kilometer] course, while this was an 8-kilometer,” McGowan said. “It gave everyone a chance to run the course for when we’re trying to get to nationals later in the year.”
Adam Houston ’18, who first heard of Van Cortlandt Park as a high school freshman in Seattle, said the course—which celebrates its 102nd anniversary this fall—is legendary. He added that Van Cortlandt is unique due to its varied topography. It alternates between flat surfaces and many hills, including the famous cemetery hill, which lies at the end of course and presents a challenge due to its steepness and placement.
Only six men competed in the race, and while none placed in the top twenty, there was still a strong performance from the underclassmen.
Hale Ross ’18 led the way for the Bulldogs, finishing 24th with a time of 26:29.09. Fellow freshmen Ryan Brady and Houston followed, earning 26th and 28th, respectively — all three Elis finished in a five-second span.
Ross, who rounded off the Bulldogs top seven at the first meet, has enjoyed a great start to the season but remains firmly grounded.
“I’d love to have the opportunity to race at pre-nationals and to run at the [Ivy League Championships],” Ross said. “But, at the end of the day you can only race your best, train your hardest, and you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re trying to compete with your teammates.”
In contrast to the men, the majority of the women’s team competed in the race, though standouts Kira Garry ’15 and Emily Stark ’16 were absent.
The women too saw a strong freshmen presence, as Dana Klein ’18 set the pace for the Bulldogs. She placed 10th overall with a 6-kilometer time of 22:46.77. Rounding out the top five were Kelli Reagan ’18, Samantha Glass ’18, Emily Waligurski ’17 and Katherine Raphael ’18, who placed 16th, 18th, 20th and 26th, respectively.
Klein, who had ran the course in high school said that the race gave her a confidence boost, and she credited the team strategy of pack running with helping her turn in an impressive performance.
“It felt really great to just know that all the work I’ve put in and the coaching has worked out,” she said. “As a freshman you feel like you’re at the bottom of the pack, so it was definitely surprising.”
The women were able to gain revenge on Princeton from the first meet, soundly beating them with 86 points to Princeton’s 141, though Princeton ran only freshmen.
The women were bested only by Brown, as the Bears finished with a total of 38 points and four runners in the top 10.
“We ran most of our team, and as [Princeton] ran just freshmen, it’s not really the same,” said captain Hannah Alpert ’15. “[What] we found out was that Brown was really good, which we weren’t expecting. They’re going to be a bigger factor than we thought, so [they’re] definitely someone to keep our eye on.”
Both teams will next compete at the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University on Oct. 4.