Despite this weekend’s cooldown across New England, the Yale cross country teams began their season with blazing performances at the Fordham Fiasco, which took place at Cortlandt Park in the Bronx on Saturday. The event precedes next week’s HYP competition, providing a solid starting point for beginning first years and returning veterans.
The women’s team finished at a solid sixth of 13 teams, with almost every Yale competitor finishing in the top 50 percent of 124 total racers. The men’s team finished fifth in a competitive performance led by a cohort of first years.
“We sent a strong group of first years and middistance athletes to give them some exposure to college racing,” Army Noonan ’20 said. “The goal was to stay together as a pack and finish hard as a team, which they managed to do very well.”
The women’s team performance built on their third-place finish at last year’s Ivy League Championships as they take aim at the top of the division this season. Hannah Steffke ’20 was the first out of seven Elis to cross the line in 23rd place overall with a time of 20:09.48. Megan Quimby ’21 followed closely in Steffke’s footsteps, finishing the 5-kilometer race in 25th place with a time of 20:12.95.
Steffke and Quimby were closely followed by Zoe Nuechterlein ’21, who took 30th place, and then Lauren Chapey ’20 and Chloe Jensen ’21. The final two Bulldogs to round out the septet of finishers were Abigail Long ’22, making her return to running after an injury, and Sarah Pillard ’21.
“It was great to be able to race again,” Long said. “I am very excited to see what we will be able to do next week at HYP when the whole team will be competing.”
The Yale men’s team met similar success with their 8-kilometer run. The Elis’ achievement was unique in that a pack of five first years led the charge, finishing closely together from 27th to 31st place.
The junior pair of Kohl Swift ’20 and Austin Stoner ’20 rounded out the Yalie finishers, allowing the team to snag fifth place overall.
“We had three goals for yesterday’s effort at Van Cortlandt Park,” men’s coach Paul Harkins said. “First, we wanted to gain some valuable experience by allowing our young guys to view the course where Heps will be in 2019. Second, we wanted to continue to learn how to work together, and third, we wanted to continue our excellent training with a solid practice effort. The guys executed all three goals perfectly, and I’m excited to let them get after it a little more as the first years join the rest of the squad for Yale-Harvard next Friday.”
Lipscomb University of Nashville seized first place in both the men’s and women’s races, in the Bisons’ debut participation in the race.
The season-opening event is typically considered a warmup for the Bulldogs, as they rest and prepare for next week’s higher-stakes competition: the HYP trigonal in Boston. Last year, the women’s team took second above Harvard, and the men emerged victorious in last season’s race.
“We’re in a very strong spot going into the meet though, and I’m confident that we’re positioned well to put a lot of our top runners in the lead pack,” Noonan said. “Our goals will be to work together and run the last half of the course the hardest. We’ve placed a lot of emphasis on teamwork this season especially and our training has been great. I think we’re going to shock a lot of other teams in the Ivy League this weekend.”
The Bulldogs will compete next Friday at Franklin Park in Boston.
Valerie Pavilonis | email@example.com