The Yale cross country team kicked off its season this past weekend with a solid, though not stellar performance at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet held in Boston.
The men’s team narrowly edged out Harvard, placing second after outscoring the Crimson in a tie-breaker, but fell to Princeton. The women’s team placed third at the race, trailing both Harvard and Princeton. Although neither team took home a first-place finish, both were satisfied with the performance of their top runners last Friday.
“I think overall the guy’s team did well,” James Randon ’17 said. “We’ve come into the season a lot more conservative [this year]. We want to makes sure we’re really prepared for the long run. We didn’t have high expectations [for the HYP], but we still held our ground. We have a lot of room to improve.”
Experience proved crucial for the men’s team, which saw its best four times come from its top four returning runners. Captain Kevin Dooney ’16 led the pack, finishing fifth overall in the 8k with a time of 25:04. Crossing the line within 10 seconds of Dooney were Cameron Stanish ’18, Duncan Tomlin ’17, and Randon, who all placed within the top 10. Adam Houston ’18 also had a big finish, coming in 18th place with a time of 25:35, a seven-place improvement from this race last season.
For Randon, the highlight came when he passed two Harvard runners at the end of the race, crossing the line just one second in front of them in a moment he described as “very sweet.”
The Bulldogs were neck and neck with the Crimson, both ending the meet with 47 points with Yale taking the second-place finish in a tie-breaker. However, the Tigers broke out ahead, finishing the race with 31 points.
“We’re not happy about not winning, but where we are is a good reflection of our training so far,” Dooney said. “This is by far the smallest meet this year. When it comes to those big races we measure ourselves against Ivy League competition. It’s important to see how we stack up against the League.”
While the women’s team finished 14 points behind Harvard and 13 points behind Princeton, the Elis had 11 runners who completed the course in a personal best time. Dana Klein ’18 took the top spot for Yale, placing fourth overall, with personal best of 17:40, a more than 30-second improvement on her previous record time. The Bulldogs’ top five was rounded out with Emily Waligurski ’17, Frances Schmiede ’18, Andrea Masterson ’19 and Kelli Reagan ’18, who placed seventh, eighth, 13th and 18th respectively. Schmiede also showed significant improvement, shaving down her time by more than a minute from her 5k time last year.
“HYP is a fun season opener,” Emma Lower ’19 said. “There’s a lot of pride on the line. It was a little disappointing to lose to Harvard, [but] it’s a long season and we’re looking at the long term. I think everyone did a great job of running in packs and pushing each other together.”
According to Lower, the team is also proud of the number of personal bests in the HYP, which she sees as evidence of a practice over the summer and potential indicator of the progress the team can achieve this season.
In order to prepare for more intense races this fall, the men’s team has been increasing its speed in practice and adding hill workouts in order to become more fit for the more challenging meets to come, according to Dooney.
Both teams will be traveling to New York for this Saturday’s Iona Meet of Champions, which will feature 16 teams from across the country. Last year, Yale’s first finisher was Klein, who finished 10th overall. On the men’s side, Hale Ross ’18 took the best finish for the Elis, crossing the line 24th. Both proved themselves to be promising freshman additions to the roster.
Yale is looking for another successful Iona race, although neither squad will send their full roster, instead resting runners who will be competing in major races the following week.