Yale’s cross country teams will compete Saturday at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, commonly known as Heps. This meet will pave the way to their last two competitions in the NCAA national championships in November.
Last year, Heps took place at Van Cortlandt Park, the same track the Elis raced for the Fordham Fiasco earlier this year. The Bulldogs will compete this coming Saturday at West Windsor Fields in Princeton. Though top schools like Columbia and Princeton stand as major roadblocks to the Bulldogs’ success, team members and coaches remain optimistic.
“Our training all year has been progressing toward this point,” said men’s coach Paul Harkins. “The weather could make things interesting for the race, but I think it will help us overall. There is a ton of parity in the league, so I anticipate it being a huge battle, but the guys are ready!”
Weather conditions have been a challenge for the Bulldogs, especially at last month’s Pre-National Invitational, where the temperatures careened into the thirties. According to Accuweather, racers on Saturday will face pouring rain and 28 mph wind gusts.
While women’s team member Jocelyn Chau ’22 told the News in a previous interview that the climate at Pre-Nats caught them off guard, Samantha Friborg ’22 is confident in her team’s determination.
“I’m inspired by my teammates’ drive every day in practice and am amazed by what some of these women can push themselves to do,” said Friborg. “In terms of Heps next week, we believe we have a chance to be very competitive with every team that toes the line with us.”
Yale was a force to be reckoned with in previous years. The men’s team finished in sixth place at last year’s Heps while the women’s team grabbed third. In 2016, the women’s team won second place while the men crossed the line in fifth place.
The men’s team will race its top 12 runners in the 8K, led by captain Trevor Reinhart ’19, who returns from a sixth-place individual finish at last year’s Heps. Reinhart has earned many accolades, including a first-team All-Ivy designation in 2017.
Reinhart’s Heps teammates will include Jonathan Lomogda ’20, who finished 24th last fall, Cade Brown ’22 and Robert Miranda ’22. Despite their youth, Brown and Miranda have led the men’s team in several races this year, including the Fordham Fiasco and the Harvard-Yale Dual meet. Charlie Gardner ’21 and Hugh Sadler ’22, who powered the Elis at last week’s Central Connecticut State University Mini Meet, reinforce the Bulldogs’ already powerful roster.
The women’s roster is similarly formidable, topped by powerhouse captain Andrea Masterson ’19, who has led her team as the first Bulldog finisher in every varsity competition this year. Masterson narrowly missed a first-place win at last year’s Heps, after crossing the line a mere half second behind the Princeton first-place finisher. Saturday’s competition will be Masterson’s final Heps performance.
Kayley DeLay ’21 and Sevanne Ghazarian ’21, who earned all-Ivy honors for their performances last year join, Masterson. First years Morgan McCormick ’22 and Jocelyn Chau ’22 also made the roster, having scored in every meet they have run. The women’s race will begin at 11 a.m.
Though she is not competing in Heps, Friborg is confident in her team’s training plan and will cheer at the races on Saturday.
“It’s the little things that really make a difference at this point in the season,” Friborg said. “Dialing in for drills, being present for core and other strengthening exercises, pushing ourselves during lift and going on that extra morning shakeout run have combined to make a huge difference for our team, in addition to impressive efforts in workouts.”
The Heps championship traditionally pits all of the Ancient Eight against one another, each team racing up to 12 runners while the top five times count towards the final team score. Columbia and Dartmouth finished in first and second place in 2017, respectively, while the Yale women followed Dartmouth by just 16 points.
The men’s team came in sixth place last year, while Princeton snagged the top spot over the runner-up, Columbia. Harvard stumbled to a vicious defeat, coming in dead last.
Yale will need powerful performances on Saturday to clinch the Ivy championship, but women’s head coach Amy Gosztyla has faith in her team.
“Relative to the rest of the league, we are absolutely contending for the title this year, and just overall we’re in a better position to step on the line and absolutely be vying for the title,” said Gosztyla. “Based on the way the women have been running, we’re really in a great position to have our best day on Saturday.”
After Heps, the Bulldogs will have just two races left — the NCAA Northeast Regional and the NCAA National Championships.
Valerie Pavilonis | email@example.com .