Courtesy of Matthew McMasters
Both Yale cross country teams will be put to the test this weekend as the No. 17 women’s squad heads to the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational and the men travel to the Princeton Invitational.
The Eli women will be running against strong competition on Saturday. Four teams in the 31-team field are currently ranked in the top 10 in the country — No. 1 Providence, No. 3 North Carolina State, No. 4 Washington and No. 6 Michigan State — as well as three other teams that are ranked higher than Yale’s 17th-place position in the NCAA league tables.
“Eighteen of the top 25 teams will be at Wisconsin, which makes this an exciting test,” captain Frances Schmiede ’17 said. “It’s also our last race before we head into the championship stage of the season and another chance to polish our team before it really matters.”
The women’s team has had a strong season so far, with three first-place finishes in the first three races of the year.
Emily Kaplan ’19 said the team is looking to build on these strong performances and have high expectations for their results.
“The team as a whole is in a really good place right now,” Kaplan said. “We don’t want to get complacent and [we] still see ourselves as underdogs to some extent, but people are really fit and running well right now. At Wisconsin, our top runners will be looking to set some new personal bests and compete with some of the best runners in the country, and I think we’re all really excited to see what they can do.”
Yale will send seven athletes to the meet. Emily Waligurski ’17 said Wisconsin is a fast six-kilometer track, and the Elis are looking forward to the challenge.
Once again, the Bulldogs’ strategy is to run together in packs, a plan that has helped to boost their scores in the past.
“Being a big race it will be most important to all get out well in the first mile,” Waligurski said. “From there if we can stay connected to each other and other big groups, we should all be in a good position to work together through the middle and be competitive in the final kilometer or so. While this meet is very competitive, our consistent training and racing enables us to go into this race looking forward to the competition rather than intimidated.”
The Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational has served as a good predictor of success in the national competition in the past: The two most recent national women’s champions both earned victories in Wisconsin before winning the NCAA championships in November.
The men’s team will head down to New Jersey on Saturday to compete at the Princeton Invitational. Originally scheduled to compete in the Pre-Nationals Invitational, which is hosted by Indiana State University, the Elis opted instead to have their top group of runners familiarize themselves with the home course of the annual Ivy League Heptagonal Championships.
“[We are going to the] invitational in hopes of getting a better preview of the Heps course, get really comfortable down there, so it feels more like a home court for us,” head coach Paul Harkins said. “[We] really want to get a good solid routine in, work on a good race plan and preview the course with our full top group.”
Standout track athlete Trevor Reinhart ’19 and top-three returning runner Cameron Stanish ’18 will run for the Bulldogs for the first time this season on Saturday. The season debutantes will join the team’s fastest runners — Andre Ivankovic ’17 and captain James Randon ’17 — in the hopes of placing Yale at the top of the meet’s standings.
Despite two lackluster performances in the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational and New England Championships, multiple members of the team expressed excitement at having their top 11 runners race the course for the first time this year. The squad will represent the strongest lineup the Bulldogs have presented this season, and their performance will set a strong precedent going into Heptagonals and regionals.
The men’s and women’s teams will compete at the Heptagonal Championships on Oct. 29.