Yale Looks to Boost its National Championship Odds with Strong Showing in Indiana
NEW HAVEN, Conn.—After resting its top seven runners at last weekend's New England Championships, the Yale men's cross country team will send its very best to compete in the prestigious and competitive Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday.
The meet, hosted by Indiana State and held at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course, brings together many of the top programs in the country each year. This year's field includes the top two ranked schools in the country—Colorado (ranked first) and Oregon (second)—in addition to eight other programs ranked in the top 30: Eastern Kentucky (19th), Southern Utah (21st), Colorado State (22nd), Indiana (23rd), Furman (26th), NC State (27th), Tulsa (29th) and Texas (30th). A strong performance against some of these top-tier programs would go a long way toward helping Yale earn a bid to the Division I NCAA National Championships, to be held on the same course in Terre Haute in late November. Last year—when the Bulldogs placed 23rd—marked the first time Yale had competed at Pre-Nationals since 2007.
Yale's top seven runners will be back in action on Saturday after taking last weekend off. Junior Kevin Dooney figures to lead the way after placing first on the team in each of the two races he has run this season. In his most recent race at the Paul Short Invitational, the Dublin, Ireland, native ran a personal record time of 23:55 and finished seventh overall. Dooney finished first on the team and 92nd overall at last year's Pre-Nationals and will be looking to improve on that placement this time around.
Although they have finished in slightly different orders, Yale's top six runners have been the exact same in each of the two meets in which Yale has entered its full top seven this season. Junior Duncan Tomlin placed second on the team at the season-opening Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet and third at the Paul Short Invitational, while freshman phenom Cameron Stanish finished second at Paul Short and third against Harvard and Princeton. Stanish actually ran about 10 seconds faster in his second collegiate race than in his first, and the Bulldogs will be hoping that he continues to improve this weekend and as the season moves on. Sophomore James Randon, senior team captain John McGowan and sophomore Andre Ivankovic, meanwhile, have finished fourth, fifth and sixth on the team, respectively, in each of their first two races. All three runners should be comfortable on the course in Terre Haute, as all competed at last year's Paul Short meet. For his part, Tomlin finished fifth on the team in last year's race.
Rounding out Yale's competitors in Saturday's important race will be its seventh-place team finisher from the Paul Short Invitational: freshman Adam Houston. Houston has impressed in his first season and is the only Eli competing in Pre-Nationals to have already run in three races this season. After placing eighth on the team at the H-Y-P meet and third on the team at the Iona Meet of Champions, Houston earned his right to compete at Pre-Nationals with a strong showing at the Paul Short Invitational.
Yale will be competing in the 8k "blue race," which is slated to begin at 11:35 a.m. Results will be available on www.yalebulldogs.com following the end of the race.
Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity