Yale Athletics

On Wednesday, summer officially came to an end, meaning cross country season is right around the bend. 

The Bulldogs’ first meet of the year will kick off right here in Connecticut, with “Big Three” Ivy League rivals Harvard and Princeton coming in town to face off against the Eli’s. Having put in the hard work this summer, the Yalies are ready to see what they can accomplish this season.

“After a consistent summer of solid training and hard work, the team is confident and prepared for anything this fall,” Kathryn Rodrigues ’24 wrote to the News. “We are so excited to host our first meet of the season on September 9th and are looking forward to the Ivy League Championships later in the season.”

Coming off solid finishes in the Ivy League tournament last season, with the men’s squad finishing fifth out of eight and the women’s team sixth out of just as many, the Bulldogs are looking to build on last season day-by-day amid an increasingly competitive Ivy League.

A majority of the women’s team is returning this year, including Claire Archer ’26, one of the top finishers in the Northeast region last fall, Kyra Pretre ’24, NCAA qualifier last spring in the steeplechase who will fill the captain’s role this year and seniors Rodrigues and Sophia Karperos ’24. In addition, the team is carrying ten returning second years who now have a year of collegiate experience under their belt.

“There’s no question the women put in really good work over the summer, and I am excited to see where we will be down the stretch into October and November,” Taryn Sheehan, the women’s team’s head coach, wrote to the News. “I think in some areas we are a deeper team than in years past, but the rest of the Ivy League has also improved significantly in the past few years, so it will make for some exciting races.”

On the men’s side, the team returns with nearly their full squad from last year, losing senior leaders including Richard Sturtevant ’23 and former Captain Cade Brown ’23. Significant contributors for the Bulldogs last year returning this season include Leo Brewer ’25, Owen Karas ’26, Calvin Katz ’25, and Sean Kay ’24. Seven new first years will also be joining the team.

One name to look out for this season is Kenan Pala ’26, a consistent contributor on the team last year who represented the U.S. Men’s National Team at the World Mountain and Trail Running Championships. Pala finished as the USA’s second-highest finisher and placed 22nd overall against some of the world’s best under-20 distance runners.

“To represent my country on the trails would be to represent what my parents immigrated for: the chance to prove how much success is possible with a focused and determined mindset,” Pala wrote to Yale Athletics. “It is an incredible honor and a dream come true.”

Yale kicks off their season on Sept. 9, and they will compete in meets throughout the Northeast and East Coast leading up to the Ivy League Championships on Oct. 28 in Boston.