The Yale women’s cross country team came away from the weekend with another solid performance but only average results after its second meet of the season.
In their third appearance at the 21st annual Br. John “Paddy” Doyle/Iona College Meet of Champions, the Bulldogs competed against 10 other teams from across the country. Despite solid performances from runners new and old, the team placed sixth in the field of 11 teams.
“I thought [Saturday] went well,” Grace Brittan ’16 said. “A lot of people had good performances and built on what they did last week. People just competed really hard at the finish and persevered the hills at the end. It’s another solid meet going in the right direction.”
In her first race in a Yale uniform, Ellie Atkinson ’19 led the Elis, finishing first for her team and 14th overall with a time of 23:00, a time that put her on pace with many of the Princeton runners, members of one of the strongest programs in the Ivy League. Melissa Fairchild ’18 and Allie Forman ’19 ended the race in 34th and 36th place, respectively, with times separated by just two seconds. The Bulldogs’ top five was rounded out by Brittan and Chandler Olson ’17. who finished 40th and 46th, respectively, less than a minute behind Eli leader Atkinson.
Many of the team’s runners did not compete on Saturday, instead resting for significant meets coming up later in the season and giving some of the younger runners a chance to gain experience.
“I’m happy with how everyone’s doing,” said Brittan. “We have a strong pack of girls. [There’s] a lot of improvement from last year.”
The course of the Iona Meet of Champions, located in the Bronx, is a six-kilometer path through Van Cortlandt Park, a significant route for the Elis. This season’s Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, scheduled for Oct. 30 and a major meet for post-season positioning, will also be run at Van Cortlandt.
Saturday’s race was an opportunity for runners to familiarize themselves with this notoriously challenging course, known for long uphill stretches, in addition to working on the extra distance. The first meet of the season, the Harvard-Yale-Princeton race, is a five-kilometer race instead of the standard collegiate six-kilometer route for women. For many of the freshmen, this was their first competition with that mileage.
Next weekend, the 10 members of Yale’s team will journey to Charlottesville, Virginia, for the University of Virginia’s Panorama Farms Invitational.
“The Virginia Panorama Farms Invitational draws a lot of really strong teams,” Kate Raphael ’18, a member of the team, said. “We’ll be up against a much bigger, deeper, more competitive field, so I think this will be a great opportunity to mix it up with some of these top competitors and see how high we can finish. I think our team is in a position to finish really well and to surprise some people who may not be expecting a lot out of Yale.”
Raphael said the Virginia Invitational is a major stepping stone for the team, helping to prepare them for the kind of competition they will face in the Ivy Heptagonals and championship races.
The men’s team, originally scheduled to compete at Iona as well, will join the women in Virginia. Captain Kevin Dooney ’16 said the men’s team chose to sit out the Iona Meet of Champions in order to rest and recover before the Virginia race.
Dooney also sees Virginia as a significant race for the team.
“Virginia is our first major race of the year,” Dooney said. “It is the first chance we have to score points for our spot at the national championships. Our main goal is to get as many points as possible this week. We’re bringing 10 athletes down so with a big squad we’ll have a chance to get some experience at top competition as well.”
The Virginia Panorama Farms Invitational will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday.