Two different races. Two different distances. And for Harvard, two very different results.
For the Harvard men's team, which competed in a five-mile race over alternating surfaces, it was a day of some disappointment.
The Crimson finished third out of four teams Friday at Van Cortlandt Park in New York. Harvard snuck by fourth-place Columbia, 22-34, but fell to a breakaway Penn team, 16-44, and Cornell, 25-33.
For the Harvard women, however, it was a day of supreme achievement. The Crimson crushed all three teams in its five-kilomter race, rushing past Cornell, 16-47, St Joseph's (Pa.), 18-43, and Rutgers, 15-50.
In the men's race, the Crimson tried to execute a classic cross country strategy--staying together in a pack. "It's a lot easier running in a pack," said junior captain Brian Cann. "[But] the Penn team did exactly what we wanted to do." Penn broke the race open as the runners headed into the woods at roughly the one-mile mark.
Fred Ernst of Columbia eventually took first place in the race with a time of 25:05.6. Harvard's top three runners finished more than a minute behind the winner, but within 18 seconds of each other.
"We were ready to run fast," said Jon Lewis, who finished in 26:27.0, which was good enough for 11th place. "We were planning to win."
On the other hand, the women took their race in grand style, as three sophomores captured the top places in the women's race. Sara Forsdyke was the first finisher, at 18:19.7. Julie Grialout finished four seconds behind, while Tina Lount finished third, 14 seconds from the leader.
The times, however, were not indicative of just how dominant the Crimson was. By the end of the race's first mile, the first eight places were held by Harvard runners. Eventually, the Crimson took seven of the first 10 spots.
"It was a good time for early in the year," said Forsdyke, who led from the start.
As in most other sports, the women's cross-country team should get better and better as the season progresses. Judging from such an impressive early performance, it is nearly certain that the Crimson will maintain its seven-year hold on the Ivy League championship.
"I think we have a better team this year than any of the past Harvard teams," said junior captain Katie Toner.