While the annual Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet this past Friday featured just two programs, the Yale men’s cross country team handily outperformed the Crimson at the Course at Yale, tallying a 13-point victory over its Ivy League rival.
The Bulldogs placed seven runners within the top 10 finishing spots, five of whom were first years. Matt Chisholm ’18 was the first runner to cross the finish line, his time of 19:27.2 coming in a full five seconds ahead of the next finisher. Eli runners also placed fourth through seventh, ninth and 10th in the six-kilometer race en route to a 23-point finish.
“We were unfortunately missing our two best runners [in captain Adam Houston ’18 and Trevor Reinhart ’19], but we were still able to take down Harvard, which is a big win and a big step forward for us,” Chisholm said.
Some of the credit for that win belongs to the two youngest classes. Nick Dahl ’21 placed fourth overall and second for the Bulldogs with a time of 19:39.0 in his first race, while Charlie Gardner ’21 and Patrick Perry ’21, who came in sixth and seventh, respectively, also scored for the Bulldogs. The class of 2020 also put forth a strong showing as Armstrong Noonan ’20 placed fifth overall in 19:39.5 and Allen Siegler ’20 placed 11th with a time of 19:50.4.
Chisholm ran with the front pack most of the way but broke off at the last half mile to cruise over the finish line with a comfortable lead. The win marks Chisholm’s first collegiate cross country victory and came at his last home meet.
Although the senior tends to run middle distance in track, Chisholm “turned himself into a true distance runner” over the summer, according to head coach Paul Harkins. According to Chisholm, he had to increase his mileage over the summer to prepare for the upcoming season, often running 70 miles a week.
The win puts the Elis in a good position to start the cross country season, especially because several notable athletes did not race at the meet. Reinhart, who earned All-Ivy honors as a distance runner during the track and field season last year, sat out on Friday, as did Houston.
Defending champion Princeton did not field a team on Friday for the first time since the dual meet became a tri-meet in 2014.
After the race, Houston praised his team’s dynamic and work ethic. At the start of the season, Houston said the runners’ training is simple, as the team runs a fair amount of miles but primarily focuses on keeping everyone healthy. When fielding a full team, Yale’s preferred strategy is to run in packs.
“Everyone draws strength from each other when they race, that was why we were able to stay so close together,” he said.
The Elis capitalized on this strategy throughout the six-kilometer course. Their top nine runners ran together for most of the race, only breaking apart during the home stretch.
Harkins also praised the first years’ contributions to the team, as they proved vital to the Bulldog’s victory. Of the seven Elis who placed in the meet’s top 10, five — Dahl, Gardner, Perry, Will Laird ’21 and Neil Braganza ’21 — were competing in their first collegiate race.
“They’ve come in, and from day one, they’ve shown no fear — that’s one of the qualities it takes to be good at this sport,” Harkins said. “That’s pretty exciting for our future.”
The combination of perfect weather, the course’s smooth, rolling hills and open terrain led to an ideal Harvard-Yale matchup day. Over the course of their careers, most of the Yale squad will only run at home once, as the teams switch up who hosts the annual HYP meet.
The Bulldogs will next race in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday when they compete at the UVA Panorama Farms Invitational.
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