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Best Result in 6 Years: Cross Country 6th at NCAA Regionals

Nihal Kayali. (photo by Tim O'Dowd)
Nihal Kayali. (photo by Tim O'Dowd)

Epstein Finishes 11th Overall

AMHERST, N.Y. - In its best finish since 2005, the Yale women's cross country team placed sixth out of 36 teams at the NCAA Northeast Regional meet. The meet was close: the Bulldogs combined for 164 points, just one point behind nationally-ranked Providence College and four in front of Connecticut. Yale put the exclamation point on a season that has proven to be its best in over five years. In 2005, Yale finished fifth at Regionals behind Lindsay Donaldson '08, who qualified for the national championship that year, her second of four appearances at the title meet. 

Sophomore Liana Epstein continued to pace the Bulldogs over a windy course, finishing a team-high 11th out of 243 runners. Epstein covered the six-kilometer course in 21:05.2, a 5:40 mile pace. She just barely edged Hannah Davidson of Providence (21:05.8).

Junior Elizabeth Marvin was the team's second finisher, coming in at 21:17.4, good for 17th place. Junior Nihal Kayali was 32nd overall in 21:38.4. Rounding out the scoring for Yale was the underclassmen duo of sophomore Melissa Chapman (51st- 21:59.5) and freshman Kira Garry (53rd- 22:02.7). The team's tight team spread, with less than a minute separating the first and fifth runners, has been a major contributor to its success all season, and today was no exception. 

Junior Jacque Sahlberg (64th- 22:16.7) and senior Lindsey Raymond (106th- 23:06.0) also represented Yale at the meet.

"Everything was so close and our team did a great job working through the field and competing hard," said head coach Amy Gosztyla.

The Bulldogs really turned in a team effort today, said Gosztyla: "Elizabeth (Marvin) led our team through the race and she and Liana (Epstein) were able to move up into their all-region spots over the last 2k of the race. Nihal (Kayali) also had a great race moving up to Millie (Chapman) in the last 1k and passing people over the final straight-away. Kira (Garry) got out great and worked really well with Jacque (Sahlberg) to have her best race of the season by stepping up really big to be our fifth scorer today."

The race was close throughout, with only 11 points separating first-place Syracuse (116 pts) and second-place Boston College (127 pts). Cornell (3rd- 137 pts) replicated its finish right in front of Columbia (4th- 151 pts) at the Ivy Leage Heptagonal Championships on Oct. 29, as did Abbey D'Agostino from Dartmouth, who won both races (20:25.3). 

This race determines who will compete at the NCAA National Championship, to be held in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 21. The top two finishers from each region, in this case Syracuse and Boston College, and at-large bids will advance, as well qualifying individuals. Selections will be released on Nov. 13. Full results and the meet website are available here.

Report by Natalie Villa '13, Yale Sports Publicity