The Yale cross country teams kicked off their seasons with a promising start at the Fordham Fiasco meet, held at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, New York, host of this season’s NCAA Northeast Regional Championships.
Both the men’s and women’s teams placed first with 44 and 27 points, respectively. With the highly anticipated Harvard–Yale–Princeton meet set for next weekend, each squad did not run its starters.
“This first race definitely has me excited for the rest of our season,” said Katherine Raphael ’18, who finished second overall in the 96-competitor field. “Our team is in a really great place right now and I think we’re poised for the best cross country season Yale has had in a long time.”
While both teams won by a comfortable margin over the second-place schools, the men’s team in particular had a great showing in finishing first among seven schools. Five of the 13 Eli runners finished within the top 10, in the 68-person field.
Experience was clearly key for the group given the strong performance of the upperclassmen, and even more promising was the fact that several returning members of the team set personal bests; Hale Ross ’18 beat his personal record by over 30 seconds in claiming second place with a time of 25:02.61 on the five-mile course, finishing just fractions of a second ahead of teammate Andre Ivankovic ’17.
“We planned to work together as a team. Hale and I crossed the finish line next to each other, but I guess the better man won that day,” Ivankovic said of the close finish.
Additionally, Spike Sievert ’17 beat his own best with a time of 25:23.42 in seventh place and Matt Chisholm ’18, Scott Meehan ’18 and Michael Yuan ’18 also recorded career-bests, finishing 12th, 20th and 21st, respectively.
The less-experienced members of the team also had a promising first showing, with Armstrong Noonan ’20 finishing ninth, scoring for the team in his first race at the collegiate level.
“It was definitely an experience,” Noonan said “This was the longest race the freshmen had ever done, since the distance we run in high school is typically [a] 5K. This was definitely a step up from that, and plus this race in particular was on a very hot day, so there was definitely a lot of will-power needed.”
Three other athletes, Allen Siegler ’20 in 11th, Austin Stoner ’20 in 23rd and James Lewis ’20 in 26th all finished fast enough to give Yale 12 runners among the top 26 competitors, while Tim Cox ’17 finished 35th to round out Yale’s showing.
Yale had seven finishers among the top 12; no other school had more than three such finishers.
The strong performance, in which the Elis beat Fordham by 18 points, speaks to the depth of the team, as its top competitors such as James Randon ’17 will wait to make their season debuts at HYP.
The women’s team also had a good season opener, besting eight other schools with a mix of two upperclassmen, one sophomore and one freshman making up the five scoring runners. Raphael, in second place, led the team with a 19:21.14 time in the five-kilometer event, and Sarah Healy ’18 and Kate Zendell ’19 also finished in the top 10, placing eighth and 10th, respectively.
“We’ve talked as a team about coming to every meet relaxed, competitive and ready to execute,” Raphael said. “I’ve watched many of my teammates run with such poise — I felt like I brought some of that confidence and collectedness to the meet that I haven’t always had in cross country races and it showed in how I felt and how I raced.”
The freshmen had an impressively strong showing in their debuts, with Kate Chapey ’20 finishing in 11th, Rachel Suss ’20 in 13th and Jane Miller ’20 in 15th place. Suss and Chapey, by finishing among the top five finishers, also scored for the Elis in their first race.
Both teams will hope to follow up their commendable performance this weekend with a similarly strong showing at HYP in New Jersey next weekend.
“I personally think we can do well — we have a lot of talent and a lot of depth, and we’ve been working hard this preseason,” Noonan said. “That being said, [head coach Paul Harkins] likes peaking later on in the season, so while we think we can do well this coming weekend, we’re looking ahead to Ivies in November.”
The men finished second at HYP last season, while the women finished third.