NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's cross country team returns to competition this Friday after an all-around historic season in 2016. Last season, the Bulldogs had strong performances throughout the season, ranking as high as No. 17 on the USTFCCCA poll after finishing second at Heps and an impressive third at the NCAA Northeast Regionals. Their success culminated in the Bulldogs' first berth in the NCAA National Championships since 2001.
This weekend, the Bulldogs hit the ground running in the classic Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet which will take place at The Course at Yale. This will be the first time that the team will host the meet since 2014, featuring a new route for this classic rivalry. The women's race will be a 4K and the men's race will be a 6K. Last season, the Bulldogs took the meet in landslide decision, earning just 20 points, versus Harvard's 53 and Princeton's 63.
Coming into this season, the Bulldogs will need to keep an eye on No. 28 Harvard, as the Crimson are ranked No. 2 in the region while the Bulldogs are just one spot behind them at No. 3. Meanwhile, Princeton find themselves ranked No. 7 in a tough division that features 3 nationally ranked teams. In any regard, the level of competition is fairly even among these teams, which will make for a great race to watch.
The women's race kicks off at 4:15 p.m. following the alumni race set to go off at 3:30 PM. A map of the course is included with this article.
Brief Season Preview
Senior Dana Klein and senior captain Kelli Reagan will look to lead the way for the Bulldogs as the team kicks off the season. As the senior members and leaders of this team, their primary task is to take the step to leading the whole team towards a strong collective performance, helping to guide the pace early on in the race. Klein has experience being in the front of the pack, as she was regularly the team's leading runner during the 2015 campaign. Similarly, Reagan was regularly third on the team during the 2016 campaign.
Returning members like senior Katherine Raphael, juniors Ellie Atkinson and Andrea Masterson and Gabrielle Rinne as well as sophomore Gemma Shepherd will be key figures in the future success of the team. These runners all have experience being in the team's top-seven at important competitions. Masterson, for example, earned All-Region honors at the important NCAA Regionals that qualified the Bulldogs for Nationals and is poised for a strong season after making vast improvements during this past track season.
Additionally, despite missing the spring season, sophomore Gemma Shepherd could be the team's dark horse. She only competed in three cross country meets, yet she delivered great performances, including a debut where she placed seventh on the team at the Paul Short Run. Additionally, her strong time in the 3,000-meter run during the winter track season, No. 7 on Yale's top 10, as well as her fifth in the 3k at the indoor Heptagonal Champs could indicate that she will have a breakout season.
While the entire incoming class is important to watch in the upcoming season, in particular, first years Kayley DeLay and Sevanne Ghazarian will be important athlete to watch for as possible immediate-impact runner. Ghazarian had a highly successful high school cross country career, placing in the top 10 in Canada's National Cross Country Championships. Most recently, Ghazarian ran a personal best of 9:23.73 in the 3,000-meter run at the PanAm Junior Championship. DeLay, for her part, owns a PR of 17:37 in the cross country 5k. Both are in a position to possibly vie for point scoring and varsity positions on the team.
Seniors Julia Borowski, Clare Carroll, Melissa Fairchild, Katrina Garry and Sarah Healy, as well as juniors Calleigh Higgins, Emily Kaplan, Emma Lower, Gabrielle Rinne and Kate Zendell round out the remaining upperclassmen on the team. They add much-welcomed depth on the team, which will be important to help the Bulldogs possibly make it to Nationals again.
Meanwhile, the development of the sophomore class will be an important item to watch in the coming season, as the team looks to improve overall. Lauren Chapey, Arianna Lord, Jane Miller, Hannah Steffke and Rachel Suss comprise the rest of the sophomore team for this upcoming season.
The team also welcomes recruits Chloe Jensen, Zoe Nuechterlein and Megan Quimby, who round out the roster for the Bulldogs. These first years will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in collegiate competition at the renowned HYP meet.
Report by Ariel A. Sanchez '19, Yale Sports Publicity