With the lineups finally set, it is now all up to the runners as the Yale men’s and women’s cross country teams head to the Bronx on Friday for the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. Heading into the most important meet of the season for both teams, the field is wide open for both races, which will take place at Van Cortlandt Park. A win at Ivies would be the men’s first since 1960 and the women’s first since 2001.

Ivies will pose a strong test for Yale’s young squad. The Elis will race six first years and three sophomores at Ivies, but believe they have the skill to compete neck and neck with more experienced Ancient Eight squads.

“Heps this year is quite wide open — really anything could happen at Van Cortlandt and I honestly don’t know what to expect,” Jonathan Lomogda ’20 said. “We’re looking to compete with the top teams in the league. Despite the fact that we’re a young team, we have the talent necessary to compete with anyone in the Ivy league.”

Yale entered this fall without former captain James Randon ’17. The recent graduate captured the individual championship at Ivies last year, the first Bulldog to cross the line first since 1989. In transitioning from his departure, head coach David Shoehalter has relied on a mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen to find regular season success.

The Elis defeated Harvard in the first meet of the season. Matt Chisholm ’18 led the way, capturing first place in the home race. Chisholm was followed by six Eli underclassmen who also placed in the top 10. Since that meet, sophomores have finished first for Yale at the four races leading up to Ivies.

Lomogda will make an impact for the team, as the sophomore has been the top Bulldog finisher in both meets he ran this season. After redshirting his first year, Lomogda improved by 30 seconds between his first and second appearances this year running eight kilometers, the length of the course at Heps.

Armstrong Noonan ’20 and Austin Stoner ’20, the other two Elis to lead the team at this season’s meets, will also race at Van Cortlandt Park. However, it is the first years who may make or break the Ivy championships for Yale. After coming in fourth against Harvard, Nick Dahl ’21 was the second Eli finisher at the Panorama Farms Invitational. He will be joined in New York by fellow first years Neil Braganza ’21, Charlie Gardner ’21, Will Laird ’21, Patrick Perry ’21 and Cameron Wyman ’21, who have all placed for the team at meets this year.

“Heps has been the main focus of our entire season,” Braganza said. “Since the preseason, all our workouts and training have been focusing on putting us in the best possible position to come away with a win on Friday. The entire team is looking forward to racing at our absolute best when it really counts and showing the Ivy League that we are a force to be reckoned with.”

The team will also see the return of captain Adam Houston ’18 and Trevor Reinhart ’19 on Friday. Houston and Reinhart, who have been out for almost the entire season, could be wild cards at Ivies depending on how they perform after their extended rest.

No Ivy League team is currently ranked nationally, and the Elis have not matched up their best squad against their conference rivals this year, meaning it will be hard to predict what the standings will look like until the dust settles on Friday.

The Bulldogs started the season ranked No. 30 in the nation and climbed as high as No. 27, but have since fallen out of the national rankings. With the Bulldogs fall from national recognition, No. 24 Columbia and No. 30 Dartmouth stand as the lone Ancient Eight teams still ranked in the top 30.

The Yale lineup of 10 runners features a blend of experience and youth. The team will look to Andrea Masterson ’19 to lead the way. Masterson has been the Elis’ highest-placed runner in every meet in which she has competed this year, including an individual victory at Harvard-Yale-Princeton to kick off the season. The junior’s performance will pace the rest of the team, but she will need help if the Bulldogs want to snap a title drought that stretches back almost to the turn of the century.

Masterson will be one of four juniors racing in New York — the others are Ellie Atkinson ’19, Emily Kaplan ’19 and Gabrielle Rinne ’19. Kaplan is coming off the CCSU Mini Meet last week, in which she was the first Yale runner to finish.

While just two first years will race at Ivies, the pair of rookies may be the difference makers. Kayley DeLay ’21 and Sevanne Ghazarian ’21 have made a splash in the regular season. DeLay finished second overall at HYP and two first years have scored in all three meets they have run so far.

Melissa Fairchild ’18, Dana Klein ’18 and Kate Raphael ’18 will provide veteran leadership for the team. However, Yale will be without captain Kelli Reagan ’18, who leaves a void with her injury-induced absence. As the lone sophomore representative, Jane Miller ’20, the team’s leading runner at the New England Championships and a staff reporter for the News, will look to build off her strong fall campaign.

Yale finished second at Ivies last year behind Harvard, but avenged that defeat at HYP to kick off the 2017 season. The Bulldogs will have to repeat that victory and topple two ranked teams if they want to bring the title back to New Haven — a stern test, but Yale boasts a talented squad more than capable of meeting that challenge.

The women will race at 11 a.m. on Friday followed by the men at 12 p.m.

Brian Yeo | brian.yeo@yale.edu