PRINCETON, N.J. – The Yale women's cross country team had one of its strongest performances in the past decade Saturday, finishing second at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. The team put together just 69 points, only behind Harvard's strong 33-point performance. However, the Bulldogs did well in their own right beating out Penn, who took third with 77 points. The top five competitors for Yale finished just within the top 25 in a field of almost 100 competitors, with two finishing in the top seven.
Though the Bulldogs finished just short of a championship, they are nonetheless proud of their efforts. Senior captain Frances Schmiede remarked on the team's performance, "Today was a disappointing day for us but I'm still very proud of my team. We've gone from being dead last four years ago to being disappointed with second. I'm proud that as a senior I'm leaving a team that expects bigger things from ourselves."
This statement truly embodies the bittersweet sentiment felt by the entire team over an impressive overall performance today. To put this into context, prior to last year's second-place performance, the team had not placed in the top three at Heps since 2004; they had not placed higher since winning back in 2001. Moreover, since 2004, the team had placed eighth at a number of championships, most recently in 2013. Nonetheless, the team had much higher aspirations going into today after what has been a strong season overall.
"Our pack struggled to find our rhythm today, which left us a bit jointed and not as effective as we have been through the regular season," commented women's Cross Country Coach Amy Gosztyla. "Despite a few tactical mistakes by our pack, the women ran tough to get their second-place finish today over Penn. We are still in a great position to continue our team's success into Regionals and nab a spot at the NCAA Championships in three weeks. I'm really proud of this team and I'm excited to see us get back out to compete at regionals."
Senior Emily Waligurski led the team this afternoon with a strong third-place finish at Princeton's West Windsor Fields 6k course, finishing in 20:36.4. Waligurski has truly stepped up as the team's top runner this season. Just a few seconds behind her was Schmiede, finishing seventh with a time of 20:43.8. Sophomore Andrea Masterson and junior Dana Klein both ran close with each other to finish 17th and 19th, with times of 21:00.9 and 21:01.3, respectively. Sophomore Ellie Atkinson had a strong close, passing eight of her competitors to finish 23rd with a time of 21:12.2. Despite not having an ideal performance, the team still had a very good spread of less than 40 seconds between Waligurski and Atkinson.
All around, the team had a number of great performances at this meet. Everyone did a good job of staying tight. However, as captain Schmiede concedes, "Even if we'd done that better today, we probably still wouldn't have been first. Harvard had an exceptional day, but we could've walked away known we gave it all as a team." Nonetheless, this will go down in the books as a successful day for the Bulldogs.
Senior Meredith Rizzo and junior Kelli Reagan rounded out the top seven, finishing in 21:13.4 and 21:25.8 for 25th and 34th place, respectively. Meanwhile, freshman Gemma Shepherd also had a solid performance, finishing 40th with a time of 21:33.5 while juniors Katherine Raphael and Melissa Fairchild finished 73rd and 80th with times of 22:16.0 and 22:24.2 respectively. Junior Sarah Healy and senior Emily Barnes rounded out the Bulldogs' roster by finishing together in 83rd and 84th place with times of 22:28.2 and 22:29.7.
No. 21 Yale now has one week until the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships, the meet that will decide whether the Bulldogs will make the trip to Terre Haute, Ind., for the National Championships. As of last week, the only other competitor that the Bulldogs trail is No. 4 Providence. More details will be posted regarding that meet as the date approaches.
Results can be found at the link above.
Report by Ariel A. Sánchez '19, Yale Sports Publicity