Yale Athletics

On Saturday, the Yale men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn., where they competed in fields of 43 and 44 teams, respectively. Both teams performed well, with the men’s team taking first overall and the women’s team finishing in the top third at 15th.

Familiar faces led both teams to victory, continuing their success — on both the team level and individual level — into the third meet of the season. For the men’s team, it was their second win in three competitions, with the other being a second place finish in which many of the team’s upperclassmen did not compete.

“The team is really encouraged about the start of the year thus far,” Sean Kay ’24, the men’s team captain, wrote to the News. “This is the best start that I’ve seen while being here at Yale, and it is a result not only of each of our guys being extremely committed to their role, but also the dedication and expertise of our Coach Matt Gutridge. We got the job done down at Paul Short with some Regional Rivals in attendance, but now it’s back to the drawing board to continue to improve. The team knows this was just a stepping stone on our way to Ivies.”

In the men’s 8K, the team was led by Owen Karas ’26, who set a 46-second personal record at 24:14, a 4:52 mile pace, placing him eighth. Following behind him was men’s captain Kay who came in close behind at 24:17, placing him 12th. Closing out the pack were Varun Oberai ’25, Leo Brewer ’25 and Kenan Pala ’26, finishing all within four seconds of each other at 24:31, 24:33 and 24:35, respectively. All five scoring runners — only the top five runners score for each team — finished within 21 seconds of each other, a testament not only to the depth but the teamwork and camaraderie of this men’s team.

Karas, who hails from Columbus, Ohio, said that this was a big step forward for him in terms of confidence in high pressure situations, notching a win in such a high pressure meet. Karas, self-described as a nervous and immature racer, told the News that he never had much success in important high school meets, but he is looking to change that going forward this season for the Bulldogs.

“Getting the win this weekend was a great step forward,” Karas wrote to the News. “The Paul Short Invitational is a large meet, and a win there has earned us some respect from the other teams in our region. We displayed our depth with all of our top five runners placing within 21 seconds of each other.”

On the women’s side of events, the Bulldogs also were led by the duo of senior captain and aspiring young gun, with captain Kyra Pretre ’24 leading the Elis with a 6K PR of 21:02, placing her 27th overall in a race of 393 participants, and first year Hebe Chadwick ’27 notching another impressive finish in only her second collegiate race, finishing with a time of 21:42 and placing 97th overall. Following only 0.3 seconds behind Chadwick was Linde Fonville ’26, who placed 98th overall with a time of 21:43.

Rounding out the women’s top five were Charlotte Whitehurst ’26 and Sophia Karperos ’24, both setting PR’s with times of 21:50 and 22:14, 43-second and 14-second PR’s, respectively.

Women’s head coach Taryn Sheehan acknowledged many of her runners’ strong performances but noted that the team has a lot left in the tank.

“The women definitely have a lot left in the tank,” Sheehan wrote to the News. “I think what has us excited for what’s to come is that despite being a bit muddy and slower day on the course at Lehigh we had a number of personal bests over 6k by Linde Fonville, Sophia Karperos, Kyra Pretre and Charlotte Whitehurst. Not to mention solid 6k debuts by Anna Chamberlin and our two first years Hebe Chadwick and Daniella Henderson. The women are looking forward to getting back to work and knowing a lot can happen in the next 4-6 weeks.”

The Bulldogs race next at the IC4A, which is the men’s competition, and the ECAC Cross Country Championships, the women’s competition. They are both held in New York at Van Cortlandt Park, the site of last year’s Ivy League Championships, which is fast approaching at the end of this month. 

Men’s team captain Kay told the News that he has high hopes.

“The goal is obviously to continue to improve and remain as injury free as possible as we get towards Ivies,” Kay wrote to the News. “If that happens, I think this team can be a top 3 team in the League if not better. I don’t want to limit our guys; I know what we can do on that day can be special.”

Last year at the IC4A and ECAC Cross Country Championships, the women’s team came 16th out of 34 teams and the men’s team came 5th out of 31.