Yale Athletics

With the postseason right around the corner, the Bulldogs’ men’s and women’s cross country teams are looking to capitalize on all their preparation throughout this season in the Ivy League Championships this weekend.

The Ivy League Heptagonal Cross Country Championships — or “Heps” — so named because the original competition only included seven Ivy League schools — Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Penn, Cornell, Dartmouth and Columbia — takes place this Saturday, Oct. 28, at Franklin Park in Boston. The Bulldog racers told the News that they are excited for the Championships. 

The Bulldogs told the News that they view this meet as one of their most important meets of the season. In order to gain familiarity with the course, the team typically holds a regular season meet on the same course as the “Heps.” This year, that meet was the Codfish Bowl Invitational, held in late September. 

Kathryn Rodrigues ’24 said that success at the Championships is at least in part viewed as a culmination of all their work throughout the season.

“We spent a productive fall break training together in New Haven and are excited to see all of our hard work from this fall pay off,” Rodrigues wrote to the News. “We have been putting in consistent work and are feeling confident heading into one of the most important weekends of the season. We’ve raced at Franklin Park before and are excited to go back.”

Both teams have enjoyed their fair share of successes this season. The men’s team, in only six meets, has enjoyed two first-place finishes and one second-place finish, with one of these first-place finishes coming in the Paul Short Run, a 43-team meet which Yale had not won since 1989 despite frequent attendance. The women’s team has one second-place finish, as well as a strong fourth out of 15th finish at Pre-Nationals. 

However, both teams told the News they believe that although they are moving in the right direction, neither of them has hit their full stride.

“Pre-Nationals was another step up in competition and a chance to run on the NCAA Championship course,” men’s head coach Matt Gutridge wrote to the News. “Our group did not get out well, which I take responsibility for because we talked about not overrunning the first 2k. What impressed me here is that the team did not get discouraged by the poor start and methodically worked their way through the field. Once again, we were the top Ivy in the meet, so I think that was another positive step heading into this weekend. The reality is that we have not run close to our best race this season.”

This year, the men’s and women’s teams look to build on last year’s finishes of fifth place and sixth place, respectively. 

In head-to-head competitions, Yale’s men’s team has outraced Cornell, Dartmouth, Penn, Harvard and Princeton while only being outraced by fellow Ivies at the IC4A Championships, when the team’s upperclassmen racers were away at Pre-Nationals. The women’s team has had more mixed results against fellow Ivy League rivals, having taken down Brown and Cornell in head-to-head meets.

Women’s head coach Taryn Sheehan said she believes her team has momentum moving forward.

“The result from the women at the Pre-National championship was a step forward for the squad,” Sheehan wrote to the News. “The goal going into the meet was very simple, to improve upon our race execution and our team chemistry during the race. We had an incredible 4-second spread from our 2-4 runners, with Linde Fonville, Charlotte Whitehurst, and Hebe Chadwick. We’re really excited to use this momentum and see what we can do this Saturday at Heps.”

Following the Ivies, Yale will compete next at the NCAA Cross Country Northeast Regional, and, if either team or any individuals qualify, the NCAA Championships.

For now, though, the team’s sights are set on this weekend.

“The Ivy League Championships are always a battle and many of the teams are improved from a year ago,” Gutridge wrote to the News. “We feel confident that we will improve on our finish from a year ago and the group is focused on taking another step forward.”

The NCAA Northeast Regionals will be held in the Bronx on Friday, Nov. 10, and the Championships on Saturday, Nov. 18.