NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The 2009 season will be a transition year for the Yale men's cross country team. "We graduated three of our top four runners from last year's squad," said head coach Dan Ireland. "Jake Gallagher in particular will be tough to replace." This is Ireland's 10th season in charge of the Yale program, and it will be interesting to see who ends up leading the Bulldogs' pack.
The team will rely on leadership from senior captain Chris Labosky, who was named to the CoSIDA/ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American men's track and field/cross country third team this summer. Labosky is capable of running sub-25:00 at Van Cortlandt Park, and was the consistent second runner for Yale his sophomore year.
One of the other seniors on the team with potential to perform well is Kevin Brown, who has been a strong distance runner on the track team during his years at Yale, but has never competed during the cross country season. Brown, whose personal record for the mile is 4:11.44, should be able to compete well in the longer distances of the fall. Senior Max Brown has been as consistent top-seven performer for the Elis since his freshmen year and is looking to continue that streak this year. Senior Alex Harris could also end up being a great help to the Bulldogs.
The junior class will be lead by Jeff Perrella, who transferred to Yale last year from the College of William and Mary. He contributed greatly to the team in his first year as a Bulldog, finishing amongst Yale's top five at the Heptagonal Championship and NCAA Regionals. Perrella should be consistently among the fastest Elis at many of the races this fall.
Fellow junior Max Walden is another runner that should be among Yale's top five; he finished in Yale's top five at both Northeast Regionals and the IC4A Championships at the end of last season. In addition he finished sixth at the indoor IC4A Championships in the 5000m running 14:23. Other juniors with potential to be among the top seven Elis include Matt Bogdan, Chris Scavone and James Wyper.
Sophomore Julian Sheinbaum will likely be one of the consistent top-five runners this year. In the first meet of last year he was the third Eli finisher, but his season was cut short by a bizarre season-ending cut to his calf. Other strong sophomores include Jake McKenzie and Nathan Richards, both of whom performed well at the IC4A Championships in 2008 and are among the top 10 fastest Yale freshmen ever at Van Cortlandt Park. Conor Dooney is looking regain the cross country form that made him one of the top junior harriers in all of Ireland. Newcomer Sam Lynch (Puyallup, WA) should add to the depth of the team.
Coach Ireland said of the young team: "Because we had these great seniors last year, a lot of these guys haven't been battle-tested. They didn't have the chance to be in the top five because there were people ahead of them, and they didn't have the pressure driving them to be top guy. A lot of these juniors and sophomores are very talented, so we'll see."
Many of the freshmen also have the potential to perform well this season. The Bulldogs added five members of the class of 2013 to the squad: Demetri Goutos (Sarasota Springs, NY) ran a 4:18 in the 1,600-meter run and 9:14 for the 3,200-meter run in high school; Sam Kirtner (Eugene, OR) was the state runner-up in both cross country and the 3,000-meter run and brings personal records of 3:58 and 8:35; Kevin Lunn (Santa Barbara, CA) ran a 4:31 for the 1,600- and 8:56 for the 3,000-meter run; Michael Pierce (Richboro, PA) brings a 4:22 personal best in the 1,600-meter run; and Matt Thwaites (Burlington, VT) ran 8:59 in the 3000-meter run in high school.
As Ireland pointed out, however, because of the runners who dominated Yale's team for the past three years, "a lot of these guys haven't had the pressure to perform. This season will be good for them because it will allow them to gain valuable experience early and will hopefully lead to Yale's most successful cross country season in several years."