The Yale men’s and women’s cross country teams battled regional teams last Friday while keeping their eyes on the Ivy League Championships this coming Friday, Nov. 1.
The Elis had a strong showing at the Central Connecticut State University Mini Meet on Oct. 25 at Stanley Quarter Park. The men’s cross country team placed sixth out of 13 teams and the women’s team finished eighth out of 16 teams. On the men’s side, Hugh Sadler ’22 led the Bulldogs with a 15:03.9 finish, coming sixth overall, and Henry Saul ’23 was close behind with a 15:07.2 finish, bringing him into ninth place. The women’s team was led by Rachel Suss ’20, who placed 22nd with a 10:33.8 personal record.
“The pressure was on a bit,” Sadler said. “I felt really comfortable around the halfway point and was leading for quite a lot of the race, and then the final lap just really picked up and I couldn’t quite stay with it, but overall I’m very happy with the race.”
Sadler explained the success of the Elis is partly due to the higher levels of confidence and camaraderie on this year’s team, as well as a strong belief in working towards improvement.
The Bulldogs came out especially strong on the women’s course. Chloe Jensen ’21 and Sarah Pillard ’21, as well as Suss, all smashed their personal records by at least 20 seconds.
“Last year, at this meet I ran 11:07, and most of the other girls that race also ran over 11 minutes,” Suss said. “This year we had five women under 11 minutes, so there were really big improvements across the board.”
This course was especially notable for its length. Men, whose races are typically eight kilometers, competed on a five-kilometer course; the women, who normally race on five- or six-kilometer courses, raced for only three kilometers.
The difference in distance changed the Bulldogs’ strategy going into the race. According to Suss, this meant that the Elis came out faster and pushed harder in the middle of the course.
For Sadler, “this [race] felt particularly short.”
“It’s three loops, so it’s very regimented,” he said. “Each loop is about a mile long, so it’s especially easy to keep track of what pace you’re doing. That meant it was a very fast course.”
With their strong finishes, Sadler and Saul earned the final two spots on the Elis’ roster for the Ivy League Championships on Nov. 1. The first 10 spots were determined by performances at the Panorama Farms Invite and the New England Championships, according to Sadler.
Head men’s cross country coach Paul Harkins noted that this year’s roster for the Ivy League Championships is stronger than in the past. Last year, the 12th person on the Elis’ roster ran 15:29 in the CCSU Mini Meet; Saul’s finish this year shaved off 22 seconds from that time.
The women’s team had already solidified its entire 12-person roster prior to Friday’s meet.
“We’re really, really looking forward to Friday. This is one of the two or three meets that we gear all of our training toward,” said Taryn Sheehan, the head women’s cross country coach.
The 22 Elis who had already earned spots on the Ivy League Championships roster did not compete in the CCSU Mini Meet so that they could rest up and prepare for the big race this Friday, Suss said.
Harkins said the Bulldogs have been progressing really well, and he looks to place in the top half of the Ivy League on Friday. For him, placing anything above fourth place will be viewed as icing on the cake.
“We’re all pretty confident we can do something quite special on Friday,” Sadler said.
The 2019 Ivy League Heptagonal Cross Country Championships will take place at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
Julia Brown | email@example.com