Underclassmen Come up Huge in Well-Rounded Team Showing
NEW HAVEN, Conn.—After a tough loss to Harvard in its season opener, the Yale men's cross country team needed a strong performance to help gather momentum and get the team moving in the right direction. Fortunately, the Bulldogs came through with a clutch showing at the 19th annual Brother John "Paddy" Doyle Iona College Meet of Champions in New York City on Saturday. Running on the 8K course at Van Cortlandt Park, the Bulldogs flew by most of their competition, including rival Brown (ranked 11th in the northeast region), Navy (seventh in the mid-Atlantic) and St. Joseph's (12th in the mid-Atlantic). At the end of the day, the Elis finished second overall with 97 points, trailing only meet hosts Iona—a premier program ranked second in the northeast region and 13th in the country.
Despite not having a runner finish in the top 13 overall on Saturday, the Bulldogs cruised to their second-place finish due to a remarkably well-rounded team performance. Navy (third place – 103 points) had two athletes finish in the top 10 overall, while St. Joseph's (fourth – 113 points) had two runners place in the top 13. Neither team, however, was any match for the Bulldog's tremendous depth. The Elis were one of only three teams (Iona and Navy being the others) to have all of their top seven runners finish in the top 50 overall.
"I was pleased with the progress we've made since last week," said Head Men's Cross Country Coach Paul Harkins. "The guys were definitely running a little bit tired, but I was happy with the effort. I thought we ran smart and did essentially what we were supposed to do."
For the second consecutive weekend, sophomore Alex Conner and freshman James Randon were the Bulldog's top two runners. On Saturday, the pair crossed the finish line at the same exact time (25:57.1) to take 14th and 15th in the race. Conner—who finished in Yale's top seven four times last season—appears to be on his way to easily breaking that mark this year. He burst onto the scene at the end of last season, placing second on the team at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships and fourth on the team at Regionals, and he now seems to be establishing himself as one of the team's top athletes. Meanwhile, Randon—a three-time New Balance Nationals All-American in high school—is already emerging as one of the Elis' most reliable runners in his first year.
Yale's entire top three was actually the same as last weekend's, as junior John McGowan finished in 26:00.52 to take 17th place. One of the team's most consistent runners, McGowan has finished in Yale's top seven in every race in which he has competed during the past two seasons.
Two more young Bulldogs—freshman Andre Ivankovic and sophomore Duncan Tomlin—also finished in the team's top seven for the second consecutive race. Tomlin finished fourth on the team (25th – 26:17.48), while Ivankovic was sixth (41st – 26:33.20).
The two newcomers to the Elis' top seven were sophomore Kevin Dooney (28th – 26:20.83) and junior Tom Harrison (45th – 26:41.50). Junior Isa Qasim (56th – 26:50.25) and senior team captain Ryan Laemel (59th – 26:51.77) finished just outside the top seven.
Yale's great result at Van Cortlandt Park is hardly a surprise—the team has dominated the course throughout the past several years, finishing fourth at the Iona Meet in 2009, third at the Fordham Fiasco (also held at Van Corlandt Park) in 2011 and first at the Fordham Fiasco in 2012.
Now two races into the season, the Bulldogs will have next weekend off before heading to Bethlehem, Pa., to compete at the Paul Short Invitational on Oct. 5.
"We're going to work hard over these next couple weeks to get ready for Paul Short," said Harkins. "We're excited to head down to the Lehigh Valley in a couple weeks."
Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity