October 15, 2011

Bulldogs Take Third at Princeton Invitational

Tight Grouping Brings Auspicious Result as Heps Loom Next

PRINCETON, NJ – The Yale men's cross country team put in a superb showing on Saturday at the Princeton Invitational. With a total of 107 points, the team took third place in a field of 14, behind only Cornell (50 points) and Princeton (68 points). The race was significant in that it granted the Elis an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the course at which the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships will be held on Oct. 29.

Head cross country coach Paul Harkins was "extremely pleased" with his team's efforts, and hoped the results would lend some momentum heading into one of the biggest races of the year.

"We have two weeks to Heps, during which we will be working to keep the positive mindset going and staying optimistic," said Harkins. "This team has gotten better each week, so if we can have our best race of the season at Heps, we should do pretty well."

A mere 11 seconds separated the top five Yale runners in the Championship Race on Saturday. Junior Kevin Lunn paced the group with an 8k time of 25:16, good for 17th place overall. Closely behind him were sophomore Ryan Laemel (25:18), sophomore Michael Cunetta (25:20), senior Nathan Richards (25:25) and freshman John McGowan (25:27).

The flat course was conducive to pack running, and Yale's front five held together through the 5k mark, keeping pace with a four-man group from Cornell. "The pack mentality is something we've been working on all year," said Richards, the captain. "It's something we haven't had in past years - we've had some strong individuals, but this year we have a really solid core."

Harkins was equally enthused about the performance of some of his younger runners, who helped the Bulldogs win the Open Race outright with 33 points. In a promising outcome, three of Yale's top five runners in that race were freshmen. Sophomore Miles Richardson (25:21), junior Matthew Thwaites (25:25) and freshman Jacob Sandry (25:40) combined to sweep the first three spots overall. Richardson and Thwaites posted times that vaulted them into Yale's top five overall runners on the day.

Freshmen Matthew Nussbaum (26:14) and Isa Qasim (26:36) rounded out the Yale scorers in the day's second race. Nussbaum managed a 9th-place finish despite losing a shoe at the 1200-meter mark and running the remainder of the race without it.

"I felt today was a pretty big breakthrough for a lot of guys, especially the freshmen," Harkins commented. "I would have to say this was our best race to this point in the season, which is great with Heps coming up in two weeks. The guys are building some momentum and confidence and I'm excited to see them bring it again on this same course in two weeks."

Full race results are available at www.goprincetontigers.com.

Report by Eian Katz '13, Yale Sports Publicity