Yale Athletics

This season, the Yale men’s and women’s cross country teams have had impressive starts in their first three competitions, with the men’s team earning two first-place finishes and the women’s team coming off back-to-back finishes in the top third of the field. 

The Bulldogs took this past weekend off as they head into their second month of the season. They kick it back into gear this weekend as they split their squads into two groups: one competing at a meet held at the University of Virginia and the other competing in the IC4A/ECAC Championships in the Bronx, New York. Both meets are held on courses that the Bulldogs will see later on in the postseason.

“We are actually a split squad this weekend, with half the team racing at ECAC/IC4S and the other half of the team traveling to the University of Virginia for the pre-national championship course preview,” women’s head coach Taryn Sheehan explained to the News. “The group running at ECAC will have a great opportunity to preview what will actually be the same course we will run at for the Northeast regional championship. The athletes racing in Virginia will have an opportunity to see some teams from outside of our region on a national scale.”

At the meet in Charlottesville, Virginia, featuring the same course as the NCAA Championships and formally called the “XC23 (Pre National) Invitational,” many recognizable names from around the country will be present. The women’s lineup features 42 teams from all over the country. Teams from all five “power conferences” will be there, as well as Ivy League rivals Cornell and Dartmouth. The men’s lineup stacks up similarly, albeit with only 39 teams.

Last season, neither the men’s nor women’s team sent runners to Nationals. Men’s team captain Sean Kay ’24 led the charge last season for the Bulldogs as a junior at the NCAA regional meet, placing 19th, and Claire Archer ’26 placed 30th in the women’s stampede as a first year. Across the nine NCAA regions, 38 total runners get an “at large” bid to the National Championship as well as the top two teams from each region. When asked about how his team’s attitude is shifting as the postseason approaches, Kay said his team is not focused on it.

“We have some younger guys heading to IC4A championships this week and they’re really excited about going against some Ivy League Rivals,” Kay wrote to the News. “Our attitude hasn’t shifted too much from the start of the season, [and] we’ve done a great job of sticking to the routine and taking each day at a time. Our approach to races is the same way. It’s an opportunity to show the league the work we have been consistently doing since the summer.”

While the more experienced runners will get a preview of the national championship course, the rest of the squad will head to the Bronx borough of New York City, home of the ECAC and IC4A Cross Country Championships. As Kay mentioned, this meet attracts many Ivy League Rivals — last year, it featured five of the eight — so it will be a good opportunity for the team to gauge its competition for the Ivy League Championships, or “Heps,” short for Heptagonals, that are coming down the pipe at the end of this month.

When asked about how the women’s squad’s attitudes are shifting as the season progresses, Kathryn Rodrigues ’24 said her team is ready to show off their hard work.

“The team has shown great depth at the past few races and we are continuing to improve as a group each week,” Rodrigues wrote to the News. “With Ivies approaching, we are getting more and more excited to show all the hard work we have been putting in.”

After this weekend, the Bulldogs will have one more meet on Oct. 20, at Central Connecticut State University before Ivies on Oct. 28.