Courtesy of Yale Athletics, 2019

This Friday, the Yale men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel to Boston for the Battle in Beantown and face off against 23 other collegiate teams.

The Battle in Beantown is an annual race that brings together college teams from across the nation to compete at Franklin Park in Boston. The Elis will be competing in the women’s featured five-kilometer race at 3 p.m., the men’s featured eight-kilometer race at 3:30 p.m. and the combined open five-kilometer at 4:15 p.m. on Sept. 24.

“I do expect us to continue competing for that top 25 percent of the teams ideally, so that’s where we want to shoot for minimally and then go from there,” Yale men’s cross country head coach Paul Harkins said in a phone interview with the News. “The training has been going well, and we want to see how much progress we’ve made since HYP.”

The Bulldogs are looking forward to building on momentum from HYP, where Robert Miranda ’22 and Kayley DeLay ’22 both won their first races of the season at the annual tri-meet against Ivy League rivals Harvard and Princeton.

This year, the field consists of schools like Santa Clara, Duke, Columbia and more. The NCAA Division I Cross Country Northeast Regional Championships, which occur two weekends after the Ivy League Cross Country Championship, also take place at Franklin Park this fall. The best teams from that race advance to the NCAA National Championship, so the Yale teams are hoping to use Beantown to prepare for regionals in November, according to Miranda.

“This course should be a good preview of what we can expect [at regionals] — the goal is to qualify regionals to nationals,” Miranda said.

Men’s runner Cade Brown ’23 told the News how he has a personal goal for Beantown — he is hoping to bounce back from a recent knee injury with this race. 

“I was one of the unlucky few who did not get the chance to race at all during the past 18 months, so I just want to prove to myself that I can still be a valuable part of the team,” Brown said. “I definitely want to take this opportunity to improve my position overall.” 

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the men’s team has one of its deepest teams so far — there are seven first years and 10 sophomores on the roster of 26 runners. These young athletes have started to leave their mark: Sean Kay ’24, Varun Oberai ’25 and Elon Abergel ’25 placed second, third and fourth on the team, respectively, at HYP.

“We’re all really proud of them because they seemed to have all really stepped up, both on the course and in the locker room, keeping the positive culture we’ve been building,” Miranda said. “I really think the underclassmen presence on this team is a huge part of our success so far.”

There is also significant depth on the women’s team, which features a strong veteran core and a number of talented younger runners. The team has five first years and nine sophomores, according to the team’s official Yale roster. This year has been unprecedented in that there are several sophomore athletes who are competing at a collegiate level for the first time as a result of seasons canceled last year due to the pandemic. Still, Taryn Sheehan, Yale women’s cross country head coach, spoke positively about the team’s camaraderie.

“The team chemistry this year has definitely been very exciting,” Sheehan told the News. “It’s been great to see them all together. There’s been a lot of energy. It’s been competitive, but in a very healthy way. The [runners] are doing a great job at making each other better at practice every day.”

Sheehan also praised individual performances on the team from HYP, especially from the upperclassmen. She noted that senior captain DeLay, who competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials over the summer, “came out strong and will be defending her Ivy title this fall.” Sheehan also mentioned that “this has been a big year” for senior Zoe Nuechterlein ’22 and applauded the performance of Maddie Ghazarian ’22, who she said competed in her first race in five years at HYP.

“We’re looking [forward to] using our depth and each other to our advantage,” Sheehan said about the upcoming race in Boston. “The goal will be to run as a team and continue to progress throughout the race.”

According to the most recent U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Regional Rankings released on Sept. 20, the Yale women rank ninth in the Northeast Region, while the men’s team sits in 15th.

Wei-Ting Shih covers baseball, volleyball and women's basketball as a staff reporter. Originally from Taiwan and Nicaragua, she is a sophomore in Grace Hopper College double-majoring in Ethics, Politics & Economics and History.