The Yale men’s cross country team will enters the season’s home stretch Friday at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships. This event is one of the two final races remaining for the Bulldog runners along with the NCAA championships on Nov. 19.
The team will aim to build off its fifth-place finish at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships two weeks ago. Captain James Randon ’17 became the first Bulldog to win the event since 1989, and three other runners set personal bests. A strong performance by Yale, both individually and as a team, could qualify runners for the NCAA championships next weekend in Terre Haute, Indiana.
“Our training has been going very well up to this point in the year,” Peter Ryan ’20 said. “I believe the personal bests run by our team are a reflection of the hard work we’ve put in this season.”
The NCAA Northeast Regional championship meet will feature more than 375 runners from 41 schools, including all eight members of the Ivy League. The two schools that finish first and second receive automatic berths to the NCAA championships, but teams that finish below them are still eligible for one of 13 at-large bids. This year’s race features three teams in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s top-30 rankings: No. 7 Iona, No. 28 Penn and No. 30 Providence.
The Quakers are coming off a first-place finish at Heps, their first Ivy League championship since 1973, after they edged out Princeton by a total team time of seven seconds. The Bulldogs finished fifth overall at the event with a team score of 118 points, trailing the top two by a 67-point margin.
Individually, Trevor Reinhart ’19 placed 16th overall with a 24:14.6 time, Yale’s second-best runner behind Randon’s first-place mark of 23:47.5. The victory was Randon’s third of the season, following first-place finishes at the Harvard–Yale-Princeton meet and the Princeton Invitational.
“I’ve never [qualified for] a national championship in cross country, so my mindset is to run with the top pack and make sure no one gets away from me,” Randon said. “If I hang with the best through the race [in the regional meet], I should qualify.”
Last year at the regional championships, the Elis, led by then-captain Kevin Dooney’s ’16 eighth-overall finish and Randon’s 23rd-place time, finished seventh as a team behind Ivy foes Cornell, Dartmouth and Columbia. This year’s Bulldog squad returns three of the top-seven runners who competed in last season’s event including Randon, Adam Houston ’18 and Cameron Stanish ’18. Yale’s team also features four freshmen competing in the event for the first time: Ryan, James Lewis ’20, Armstrong Noonan ’20 and Allen Siegler ’20.
“We can’t control how other teams run so we have to stick to our race plan and trust our fitness and [trust] that our coach has put us in the best position to succeed,” Tim Cox ’17 said.
Yale has been relatively successful at the regional meet in recent years, placing seventh or eighth as a team in every season since 2013. This year’s event is hosted by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and will take place at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York.
This will also be Yale’s first race since the Oct. 30 death of teammate Hale Ross ’18. The Bulldogs will wear bracelets at the meet with the inscriptions “Stronger Together: Yale Track and Field” and “In memoriam: Hale Ross” to honor his life and spirit.
“Despite the emotionally difficult past 10 days, our guys are in peak shape,” Andre Ivankovic ’17 said. “Tomorrow we toe the line with one less man who is missed dearly, but I know he will be with us for each stride we take.”
Yale will compete at noon on Friday at Van Cortlandt Park.