Following a two-week break from races, the men’s and women’s cross country teams returned to competition this past weekend ready to run.
Both teams competed at the New England Championships in Boston on Saturday against a field of 38 men’s and 39 women’s teams. Resting many of their top runners in preparation for the NCAA Pre-Nationals this upcoming Saturday, the Eli women notched a third place team finish, while the men remained in the middle of the pack with an 18th place mark.
“The team ran really well this weekend,” Grace Brittan ’16 said. “It was exciting to place third in both varsity and [junior varsity] even without our top seven girls. It shows that our team has a lot of depth right now and we are in a good position going into championship season.”
Hometown team Boston College took three of the top five places of the women’s varsity 5,000-meter run, but Bulldog Meredith Rizzo ’17 crossed the line at 19th in 18:12.3, the most impressive Eli time of the day. Her teammates were not far behind in the field of 265 runners, with captain Shannon McDonnell ’16 following less than eight seconds later.
The Yale women’s team continued its strategy of running as a pack, a plan that proved vital to the third place team finish. A trio of Eli runners — Emily Barnes ’17, Sami Glass ’18 and Brittan — all finished within 20 seconds of Rizzo’s time, taking 37th, 40th and 42nd place, respectively. Melissa Fairchild ’18 and Kate Raphael ’18 rounded out the varsity squad with finishing times of 18:45.7 and 19:05.1, respectively.
Just behind BC but ahead of Yale was Quinnipiac, which finished in second place with three finishers ahead of Rizzo.
The men’s team did not have the same success as the women, completing the race with a performance that placed the Bulldogs safely in the middle of the pack.
Spike Sievert ’17 led the Bulldogs, crossing the line in 25th place with a time of 25:18.8 in the 8,000-meter race. Sievert and teammate Alex Conner ’16, who finished nearly 11 seconds and 12 places behind Sievert, were the only two Elis to finish within the top 50.
“We had some very good performances,” Matt Chisholm ’18 said. “Our top two runners, Spike Sievert and Alex Conner, ran particularly well. Going forward, we’re really looking to use this meet to build towards the Ivy League Championships.”
Although Yale finished in the middle of the pack, the squad saw several individual personal records as Zach Capello ’19, Max Payson ’16, and Sievert all shaved at least 25 seconds off their previous bests.
While the men’s team did not field a full team for the junior varsity race, Ryan Douglas ’17 and Michael Yuan ’18 ran in the junior varsity meet. Yuan — a track athlete — along with teammate Tim Cox ’17, who ran in the varsity race, joined the cross country lineup for the weekend in order to work on their long-distance skills.
“My first race went well,” Yuan said. “I don’t usually race cross country because I’m more of a middle distance runner, but our coach had a few of us run [Saturday] to test our fitness. 8k was a tough adjustment, but I think it went well, and the gorgeous weather helped.”
The women also saw impressive times in the junior varsity race. Sarah Healy ’18 finished second out of the field of 318 finishers, just 4.8 seconds behind the leader. Her time of 18:38.0 was faster than those of several runners on the varsity squad.
Although the New England Championships do not count toward the postseason for the Bulldogs, they provide an opportunity to develop younger runners, especially at Franklin Park, a common course for important meets throughout the season such as the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet and the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships.
The NCAA Pre-Nationals will take place in Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky, the same location as the NCAA Championships that will occur in November.