Sam Rubin '95

Yale men’s and women’s cross country teams flew out to Terre Haute, Indiana for Pre-Nationals on Saturday, battling top-ranked competition from across the nation.

Racing on the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, where the NCAA will hold its Division I National Championship races on Nov. 23, Kayley DeLay ’21 paced the Yale women’s team. Emerging from 252 student-athletes in the field, she captured a 13th-place finish in 20:31.5 on the six-kilometer course to help the Elis to a collective finish of 13th of 37 teams at the race. Meanwhile, the men finished 23rd of 38 teams after finding composure following the field’s blistering start, supported by consecutive finishes from Nick Dahl ’21 in 47th and Robert Miranda ’22 in 48th.

“Our big goal for the season is to run our best race of the year at Heps against the rest of the Ivy League,” Miranda said. “Pre-Nats was a great opportunity for our team to get experience competing against the best teams in the country. The race went out hard from the gun, but the team was able to pace themselves and finish strong over the last 3k.”

As they did on Sept. 27 at the Panorama Farms Invitational in Charlottesville, Virginia, Dahl and Miranda linked up at the top for the Elis. In Virginia, Miranda finished 15th overall and first for the Bulldogs, while Dahl came across less than two seconds later at 17th overall. During Saturday’s race in Terre Haute, the two swapped, as Dahl set a personal record of 24:25.7 for the eight-kilometer, finishing in 47th. Miranda crossed with a nearly identical time of 24:25.9.

The duo’s joint finish occurred more than 45 seconds before the next Eli, Cade Brown ’22, would complete the race. Brown, who won the season’s opening dual meet against Harvard at The Course at Yale, ultimately finished in 142nd place with a time of 25:14.8. Of the seven Elis in the race, Allen Siegler ’20 and Will Laird ’21 made up the rest of the Bulldogs’ five point-scorers with respective finishes in 154th and 184th place, giving Yale an overall finish of 23rd. The Bulldogs, who ranked sixth in the Northeast region entering the race, finished a mere six points behind seventh-ranked Dartmouth, one of two other Ivy League squads competing on Saturday. Cornell, ranked 13th in the region, finished 33rd.

“When we took the line, a bunch of the guys from Campbell in particular took the pace out almost ridiculously fast,” Dahl said. “We came through in 2:37 for the thousand-meter mark. That’s somewhere in the ballpark of 4:10 mile pace and significantly faster than it is sustainable over 8,000 meters. Once those splits started to come in and we all felt what that was doing to the field, it was more of a decision to maintain where I was and hold it as long as possible rather than stay up front, run with guys who were going to be going a little faster than I wanted to the first half of the race and then die down the back stretch.”

The seven racing Elis sought to work in two groups over the course of the race, Dahl said. Brown, Miranda and Dahl intended to operate up front together, while Siegler, Laird, Brendan Murray ’22 and Stephen Moody ’23 hoped to run just behind them. Within each group, runners planned to push each other along to the finish.

But after the blazing start, Miranda stayed on the front wave, while Brown and Dahl intentionally faded to preserve energy. The duo crossed the 3,000-meter mark just over two seconds apart. Dahl eventually worked towards Miranda, meeting him after the 5,000-meter mark, but the speedy start caught up to Brown’s tired legs, Dahl said.

“It’s a cultural thing on our team,” Dahl said. “We tee off each other, we work really well in groups. Whenever you find someone else with that Y on their chest in the race, you make it your effort to not only begin your drive towards the end of the race but to bring them with you … It speaks volumes to the way that we train in groups, the way that we work out in groups and the way that everyone has their backs on race day.”

For the women, DeLay led the way as she has all season, drawing on a balanced start to move up 76 spots over the final four kilometers for a 13th-place finish. Five of the other six Bulldogs racers on Saturday also gained ground over the course of the race, and the Elis’ forward trend reflected itself in Yale’s projected finish at course checkpoints every 2,000 meters. At the 2,000-meter checkpoint, Yale placed 22nd as a team, but that projection increased to 14th after 4,000 meters and solidified at 13th by the race’s conclusion at 6,000 meters.

DeLay’s 13th-place finish set her ahead of top runners from teams that finished six through 10 at the meet: No. 20 Illinois, Virginia Tech, Butler, No. 26 Boston College and No. 17 Ole Miss. The Bulldogs entered the race ranked fifth in the Northeast Region, according to NCAA DI Women’s Cross Country Regional Rankings last updated on Oct. 7.

“The game plan for the race was to get out hard as a team and then pick off people as we neared the finish,” DeLay said. “I tried to work my way up throughout the race and finish with whatever I had left. We are pleased with a 13th-place team finish in such a stacked field, but we are eager for much more.”

In addition to DeLay, Jocelyn Chau ’22 and Jane Miller ’20 logged strong finishes in second and third for the Elis, respectively coming across in 20:59.2 and 21:11.3, a personal best for Miller. Sevanne Ghazarian ’21, Gemma Shepherd ’20, Hannah Schupansky ’23 and Zoe Nuechterlein ’21 — the latter an editor for the Yale Daily News Magazine — rounded out the Bulldog seven.

For both teams, the focus is now on Ivy League Heps on Friday, Nov. 1. Although the Elis each race this weekend, each team’s top seven will not compete until they face off against the rest of the Ancient Eight at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

Both teams’ other runners race their final meet of the regular season this Friday when the Bulldogs meet Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut.

 

William McCormack | william.mccormack@yale.edu