No. 23 Yale Takes Hard-Fought Third-Place Finsh for Best Results Since 2004; All Five Scorers Finished in the Top 30; Schmiede, Masterson Lock-In All-Region Honors.
THE BRONX, N.Y. – The Yale women's cross country team exceeded all expectations this season, placing third out of a field of 37 teams at the highly anticipated NCAA Northeast Regional meet. Ran on the hilly Van Cortlandt Park course, this was the key meet for the Bulldogs to perform well in because it decided which teams get both the automatic and at-large qualifying spots for nationals. Bolstered behind two powerful performances by senior team captain Frances Schmiede and sophomore Andrea Masterson, the Bulldogs put together a phenomenal 126-point performance for third. This result is Yale's best performance at the Northeast Regional since 2004. No. 3 Providence took the win with 50 points, while No. 18 Harvard placed second with a total of 71 points this morning.
Though the team did not lock-in one of the automatic qualifying slots for the NCAA National Championship, they are in a very good position for receiving in at-large bid with a solid third-place finish. Regardless of that team's status in that meet, the women put together a memorable season this year that surely offers hope for future seasons. The women's Cross Country Coach Amy Gosztyla commented, "Today was an incredibly gutsy full team performance. We came together as a group once again and ran a really tight pack. I'm really proud of the women."
All together, the team worked well together, as the split between the first scorer, Schmiede, and fifth scorer, senior Meredith Rizzo was less than half a minute. Schmiede reflected, "I'm so pleased with the way everyone came together to run as a team today. It wasn't a perfect day for everyone but the strength of our team meant that we were able to do what we wanted to today. I think it was truly special after a very hard time for the team that we were able to grit our teeth and go and get a good race done."
Indeed, all five scorers were in the top 30 in a field of over 250 athletes. A third-place finish is nothing to scoff at in a region that includes a total of 37 teams, including one the nation's top teams (No. 3 Providence). Schmiede led a very tight pack of Bulldogs by placing 15th, with a final time of 20:55.00 on the 6k Van Cortlandt Park course, averaging 5:37/mile. Yet the rest of the team was not far behind: Masterson followed suit to just look in All-Region honors with a 25th place finish in 21:11.40 (5:42/mile). The trio of juniors Kelli Reagan and Dana Klein and senior Meredith Rizzo was on Masterson's heels, claiming three of the next five spots: 27th, 29th and 30th with times of 21:15.30, 21:19.50 and 21:21.30, respectively. Senior Emily Waligurski also had a commendable performance, locking in 57th place with a times of 21:49.70, while junior Katherine Raphael rounded out the Bulldogs' competitors with a time of 22:26.10, good for 111th.
With their placement in today's race, both Schmiede and Masterson earned All-Region honors. There will be a separate release soon regarding this.
All around, the team put together a solid performance that puts them in position for a possible at-large bid for the National Championships next week. Yet, even if this were possibly the last week, it is important to highlight the team's accomplishments in the 2016 season: the team opened up with three consecutive wins, including unprecedented victories at Harvard-Yale-Princeton and at the Paul Short Run. The Bulldogs then were then ranked No. 17, their highest ranking since 2002.
The Bulldogs went on to take 11th in a highly competitive field against teams that will probably go to the National Championships. After the sub-varsity runners swept the CCSU Mini Meet, the team took home its second consecutive second-place finish at the Heptagonal Championships after not having placed in the top three since 2004. And at today's meet, the team also locked in its best performance since 2004 with a third-place finish and its best shot at making Nationals for the first time since 2001. While three of the Bulldogs' top guns will inevitably graduate at the end of the year, the future looks bright for the Bulldogs going forward.
Results of today's meet can be found above.
The NCAA will announce at-large bids Saturday afternoon.
Report by Ariel A. Sánchez '19, Yale Sports Publicity