Tom Connelly

After a series of successful results culminating in a promising finish in the Ivy League Championships at Van Cortlandt Park, New York, the Bulldogs are eager for their upcoming trip to Buffalo.

With regionals right around the corner, both of Yale’s cross country teams are preparing for triumph, with the ultimate goal of qualifying for nationals. The men’s cross country team has performed well throughout the season and their placement in past meets shows their potential for the future. Consistent individual performances from both sophomore Robert Miranda ’22 as well as junior Nick Dahl ’21 have helped lead the team to success.

“Regionals is an opportunity to draw strength from six long months of training in the longest 30 minutes any of us will ever experience this season,” Dahl said. “In many ways, it is the definition of cross-country. Terrible conditions, cold temperatures and hundreds of other top-tier athletes all trying to get in front of you, all while your feet are slowly becoming bricks of ice. I greatly look forward to the chance we are afforded every November to go out and race on sheer determination against our Northeast rivals.”

In addition, sophomore Hugh Sadler ’22 and first year Henry Saul ’23 have put up strong times. Their results at regionals this week will also be crucial in terms of overall qualification.

The conditions are also becoming increasingly difficult with each new day; temperatures are below freezing in Buffalo, where the meet will take place. The team is keen on adequately preparing itself for the unpredictable obstacles ahead, as this race is particularly trying. It is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one, Dahl said.

“In many ways, the best thing we can do now is start to confront what Friday will mean both physically and mentally,” Dahl said. “We are working out in the harsh conditions, running paces just over the edge of uncomfortable and starting to build that mental endurance which can carry us through to the finish. The preparation, though more important now more than ever, truly began one week after the track season ended, and now we are just putting the last few pieces in place.”

With junior Kayley DeLay ’21 leading the charge, the women’s cross country team has excelled over the past few months. In addition to her victory at HEPS, where she became the 2019 Ivy League cross country champion, DeLay has been a formidable competitor all season. She has won multiple races and another first place finish could be the key to nationals. DeLay has become a role model for the team, and other runners are trying to emulate her success. Her dedication to the team’s goals as well as her determination to succeed is clear.

Senior Jane Miller ’20 has also contributed significantly to the team’s success. She knows what is necessary for the team to qualify for nationals and is sure that it is capable of rising to the highest level of competition.

“One of our team goals for this year from the beginning has been to qualify for NCAA Nationals by finishing in the top two at regionals,” Miller said. “Our region is very competitive so we’re going to have to really give it our all and also race smart, but I completely believe we are a talented team that has what it takes to qualify.”

More so than talent, the Bulldogs will need grit to qualify. The start of the season revolves primarily around physical strength and ability, but these criteria shift toward the runners’ mentalities at the end of the season.

After many months of training and racing, pushing oneself to compete can be incredibly difficult due to not only physical challenges, but also mental strain. Some team members have commented on the importance of understanding this psychological challenge that they will inevitably face.

“We have been mentally preparing ourselves for what it is going to take for us to qualify for nationals this Friday,” DeLay said. “It has been a full team effort.”

Not much stands between the Bulldogs and a trip to nationals in Terre Haute, Indiana. The regional meet will take place this Friday, Nov. 15 in Buffalo. The rest of the season is in their hands.

“We just have to be ready for whatever gets thrown our way,” Miller said.

Rehan Melwani | rehan.melwani@yale.edu