The No. 26 Yale women’s cross country team and men’s team captain James Randon ’17 wrapped up their seasons on Nov. 19 in the NCAA National Championship race.
The women’s ended the fall with a 30th- finish at the Terre Haute, Ind. race. Meanwhile, the lone male runner for the Bulldogs, James Randon ’17, finished 114th individually out of the 251 competitors.
“I certainly wasn’t proud of how I ran,” Randon said. “I didn’t go out with the leaders and a series of unfortunate events prevented me from moving up through the field well.”
Randon, who was racing just a week after competing at the Northeast Regional Championships, finished with a time of 30:58.1. Even though he did place in the top 40 and earn All-American accolades, Randon’s mark was just a minute and a half behind the winning time.
The captain’s qualification and participation in the national championships capped off a fantastic season for the Bulldog senior, in which he won three races including the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet, the Princeton Invitational and the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships.
The men’s race was won by Patrick Tiernan of Villanova. No. 5 Syracuse’s Justin Knight, who also won the northeast championships, finished in second place while last year’s champion, Oregon’s Edward Chesarek, rounded out the top three. No. 1 Northern Arizona finished first as a team after the Lumberjacks posted a total time of 2:31:16, edging out No. 3 Stanford by 33 points and Syracuse by 39 points.
“Overall we had a ton of challenges this season, but I’m proud of the commitment and accomplishments we had,” Randon said. “I love this team, this sport and this university. I’m so proud every time I don the Y, and luckily I still get one more semester in track.”
The women’s team competed in the championships for the first time since 2001. Despite a solid overall performance, the Bulldogs ultimately finished second to last in the 31-team field. No. 12 Oregon finished in first place, followed by No. 5 Michigan and No. 1 Colorado, while the only other Ivy League teams competing at the event, No. 29 Penn and No. 17 Harvard, finished in 24th and 26th place, respectively.
The three Eli seniors were the first of the Bulldogs across the finish line. Captain Frances Schmiede ’17 led Yale with her time of 20:55.0, which was good for 119th place out of a field of 250 runners. She was followed by Emily Waligurski ’17, who finished at 21:06.0 for 157th place. Less than four seconds behind her was Meredith Rizzo ’17, who finished in 165th place.
Dana Klein ’18 and Andrea Masterson ’19 closed out the scoring members of the team, finishing in 179th and 195th place with times of 21:16.7 and 21:23.7, respectively. Kelli Reagan ’18, who finished at 21:25.0, and Ellie Atkinson ’19, who crossed the finish line at 21:45.8, rounded out the seven Eli runners.
According to Schmiede, this race was a valuable learning experience, especially for the Bulldogs who will return next year and may have another chance to compete at the national level.
“This was a watershed season for our team,” Schmiede said. “No one had a bad race at nationals, we just found it hard to distinguish ourselves among the best teams. It’s something the team will keep working on, with this year as a benchmark.”
A strategy that the Elis implemented throughout the season with considerable success was running together in packs, and once again this was something that the team was able to accomplish. In the championship race, the split separating Yale’s scoring runners was only 28.7 seconds. This difference was the second-shortest at Nationals, with the Colorado scoring runners finishing with a separation of only 10.8 seconds.
This was the third race in which Waligurski and Schmiede were the first two Bulldogs across the finish line. Waligurski was the Yale frontrunner at both the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Championship and at the Heptagonal Championships, while Schmiede was the leading Yale runner at the HYP race and the northeast regional championships, where she was awarded All-Region honors. Rizzo has also consistently been a scoring runner for the Bulldogs throughout the season, recording points in every race except one this fall.
The Bulldogs have been steadily improving for the last few seasons and have made great strides even compared to last year. Though they lose strong runners as the seniors graduate, the Bulldogs have high expectations for next year and are looking to build even further on their impressive 2016 season.
“I know it meant a lot for each of us to represent Yale athletics on a national level together,” Klein said. “It’s a honor every race, toeing the line with such a special group of women.”