At the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships Friday, the Yale men’s cross country team raced to a top-10 finish led by captain James Randon ’17, who qualified for the NCAA National Championship.
The Bulldogs placed ninth out of 35 teams behind personal bests from Andre Ivankovic ’17 and Randon, who also earned All-Region honors and qualified for the national championship next weekend in Terre Haute, Indiana, thanks to his fifth-place finish. Randon led the Eli runners with a time of 30:39.6, more than 25 seconds faster than his previous 10 kilometer mark.
“I was thrilled to finally run a 10k race I was proud of,” Randon said. “Over the years, I’ve always struggled moving up in distance from the 8k to the 10k, and this time around, I truly felt ready for the change. Being a miler, I’ll never truly feel comfortable at the highest level running that far in distance, but conventional wisdom says longer distance runs get easier with age, and I have to say that I certainly feel such with the 10k.”
This year’s squad included three runners from last year’s event, including Trevor Reinhart ’19, who finished 35th overall and posted a 31:34.2, the second fastest time of any Yale runner. Cameron Stanish ’18 finished third for the Bulldogs after running a 32:17.6, placing 77th out of the 245 competitors.
Syracuse’s Justyn Knight led the field with a time of 30:30.6. The junior helped lead the Orange to the team title as well, as unranked Syracuse pulled off an upset to beat No. 7 Iona by 27 seconds. The Bulldogs finished behind four teams from the Ivy League — Brown, Cornell, Columbia and Dartmouth — and trailed Syracuse by 284 points.
“Individually, I had a conservative start and tried to continue to move up throughout the race as people slowed down,” Stanish said. “The team ran tough. James and Trevor ran consistently in the front pack.”
Randon’s result this year represents an improvement of 18 spots from last season’s regional championships, in which he completed the race in 23:47.5. Ivankovic also set a personal best with a time of 32:20.1 in his final collegiate cross country race and finished four spots behind Stanish. Ryan Brady ’18 rounded out Yale’s top five, after he ran a 32:57.5 and placed 124th individually.
For all of the Bulldog racers except Randon, the regional championships were the final cross country competition of the season. Now many members of the team, including Ivankovic, will turn their attention to the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.
“It has been an honor wearing the Y and contributing to our cross country team throughout the season,” Ivankovic said. “Running cross country during my four years at Yale has probably been the hardest thing I will ever do, but also the most meaningful. I experienced grit and glory, all for the sake of my brothers who ran with me.”
All runners on the top two teams — Syracuse and Iona — automatically qualify for the NCAA National Championships, as well as competitors such as Randon whose times were fast enough to earn them at-large bids.
Randon will next compete at the Wabash Course against the best cross country runners in the nation. If Randon, who has already won three races this year, can finish in the top 40 at the event, he will earn All-American honors.
“We had a lot of emotion going into this race, and while we certainly didn’t perform up to the standards that we had hoped, I’m proud of how our team has come together this season,” Randon said. “I probably won’t recover super well from the regional race, but I honestly didn’t feel like the race took too much out of me, so perhaps I’ll be as fresh as ever come Saturday.”
Randon will race at 12 p.m Saturday.