Team Confident, Focused as Postseason Dawns
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Bulldogs will make the short trek to Princeton, N.J., this Saturday to compete at the season's signature event, the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships (Heps). The meet is traditionally considered a gauge by wich the success of a season is measured – the Elis were sixth in 2011, and are hoping to improve upon that result this weekend. Their toughest competition will likely come from No. 10 Columbia and No. 23 Princeton, though Dartmouth and Harvard also bring very strong teams.
"With the rivalries as they are in the Ivy League, it always makes this meet a big one," said head coach Paul Harkins. "This is the meet the alumni, parents and friends all come to see."
Despite the hype, Harkins qualified that his team is remaining grounded and focused on the task at hand: running the best race it can. If the Bulldogs perform to their potential, they have the ability to make a splash in the league and regional standings.
The 12-man traveling roster will include: freshman Alex Conner, junior Michael Cunetta, freshman Kevin Dooney, senior Demetri Goutos, senior Timothy Hillas, junior Ryan Laemel, senior captain Kevin Lunn, sophomore John McGowan, sophomore Matthew Nussbaum, sophomore Isa Qasim, sophomore Jacob Sandry and senior Matthew Thwaites.
Dooney, Goutos, Lunn, Nussbaum and Sandry have all run the 8K in less than 25 minutes this season, with Nussbaum holding the team's fastest time (24:26). Lunn earned second-team All-Ivy honors at Heps last year for his 13th-place effort. Meanwhile, Conner, Hillas, McGowan and Thwaites have all scored varsity points for the Elis during the 2012 campaign. Cunetta, Laemel and Qasim earned their spots by being the first three Bulldogs across the line at last week's CCSU Mini-Meet.
Yale is coming off an impressive stretch of performances, beginning with a victory at the aforementioned CCSU race last week. Prior to that, the Bulldogs ran one of their best races as a unit at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, with four runners clocking in beneath the 25-minute mark in the same race for the first time under Harkins' tenure. The team has shown consistent week-over-week progress all season long, and looks to be in peak form heading into the postseason.
"There is definitely an air of confidence around the guys and a belief in the hard work they have been putting in all year long," said Harkins. "We're looking forward to doing battle against the other teams in the league and making our alums, friends and parents proud!"
Report by Eian Katz '13, Yale Sports Publicity