October 29, 2011

Battling Cold and Snow, Bulldogs Take 4th at Heps

Epstein and Marvin Pace Yale

PRINCETON, N.J. – During the first snowfall of the season, the Yale women's cross country team placed fourth in the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. This is the team's highest finish since 2006, when they were also fourth. A layer of snow blanketed the ground and continued to fall throughout the entire race. The temperature at the conclusion of the race was 32°F, less-than-ideal conditions for any meet, let alone a championship.

Yet the Bulldogs pushed through, racing to their highest team finish in five years.

Head coach Amy Gosztyla noted the weather's impact on the team: "The weather was definitely a factor with the race this year.  We had a little trouble getting into good position at the start, which made it difficult for our pack running to help us with this race, but ultimately every team was competing in the same conditions, which were extremely challenging, and I give credit to all of the athletes for competing hard in these far from ideal conditions," she commented.

The tandem of sophomore Liana Epstein and junior Elizabeth Marvin, who have been closely matched all season, again lead the team with finishes just two seconds apart. Epstein crossed the line in seventh place of 91 athletes, finishing in 22:16.3. Marvin was right on her tail in eighth place, coming in at 22:18.1. Both will earn All-Ivy honors for their efforts today.

Junior Nihal Kayali, an NCAA qualifier in track who has been steadily moving up the team's positions this season, finished third for the Bulldogs. She placed 19th overall in 22:47.1. Sophomore Melissa Chapman and junior Caitlin Hudson rounded out the scoring for Yale. They finished as part of a five-athlete pack that crossed the line within two seconds: Chapman in 35th (23:11.2) and Hudson in 37th (23:12.3).

Freshman Kira Garry (43rd- 23:28.1), junior Jacque Sahlberg (50th- 23:44.1), senior Lindsey Raymond (60th- 23:55.3), senior captain Anne Lovelace (68th- 24:13.3), sophomore Sarah Barry (69th- 24:15.3), junior Jennifer Donnelly (78th- 24:41.0) and sophomore Rachel O'Driscoll (80th- 24:55.5) also competed for Yale.

Gosztyla was pleased with her team's performance: "We competed very hard in some unbelievably challenging conditions, and improved tremendously from last year moving from 8th to 4th place team overall.  It's really been a remarkable season and above all else, the team is believing that we can contend for Ivy League Championship titles," she said.

Nationally-ranked Cornell won the women's title with 49 points, breaking third-place Princeton's streak of five straight titles (2006-2010). Columbia narrowly came in second, combining for 51 points, just two more than Cornell. The Bulldogs scored 104 points, continuing their trend of finishing just behind Princeton's 94.

More information about the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, as well as the full results, is available here. With the championship season underway, the team will set its sights on the NCAA Regional Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., on Nov. 12. Gosztyla knows her team will be prepared for any conditions in the notoriously cold and snowy Buffalo.

"Our goals continue to be the same heading into the NCAA Regional meet," said Goszytla. "We are looking to improve from our 10th place team performance last year, and vie for both team and individual spots to the NCAA Championships.  Our region is very strong this year, and we are prepared to mix it up with the best from the country.  We'll be ready for any conditions in Buffalo after last week's effort!"

Report by Natalie Villa '13, Yale Sports Publicity

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