Cross Country Teams Excel, Falter at Heps
Men Finish Fourth; Women Drop to Seventh
The fortunes of the Harvard men's and women's cross-country teams took separate paths yesterday as they ran the Heptagonal Cross Country meet through Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, New York.
The men improved on last year's seventh place finish by capturing fourth in the nine-team meet, while the women, who finished second last year, dropped to seventh.
The men ran as a pack through much of the race: Harvard's top five finishers all completed the five-mile course within 45 seconds of each other.
"I thought we ran well as a group," captain Steven Kelts said. "We were the best group out there."
In the team competition, heavily-favored Cornell finished on top with 46 points as four of its first five runners finished in the top 10 overall. Brown finished second with 83 points, just edging out Dartmouth (84 points).
Harvard ended with 94 team points--a strong finish considering the quality of the opposing runners.
"We knew who the competition was coming into the meet," Kelts said. "Cornell, Brown, and Dartmouth have all been in the NCAA top-25 rankings at one time or another this season."
Individually, the Crimson men were led by sophomore Brian Walsh, who finished 12th out of 77 runners with a time of 25:46.4. Walsh was followed by freshman Ian Carswell (17th, 26:04.6), sophomore Peter McConnon (18th 26:04.7), Kelts (21st 26:10.0) and sophomore Darin Shearer (26th, 26:20.0).
"It was a real gutsy race," Kelts said, referring to the overall fast times. "Everyone was tired after the first two miles, but they kept the pace up."
Freshman Killigan Lonergan, one of the Crimson's top runners, was hobbled by advanced shin splints and finished the race in 27:49.1, well off his normal pace.
With a hearty Lonergan, the Crimson men can realistically look to improve on this performance and earn an NCAA bid at the IC4A Championships, held two weeks from now at George Mason University.
Defeating Dartmouth and Brown there could earn Harvard a trip to Lehigh for the national championships on November 22.
Injuries Slow Women
Fate was more responsible for the women's lackluster performance than poor running. Injuries sidelined two of the Crimson's top runners as well as two of their teammates.
Captain Alais Griffin, junior Jennifer Kearney and freshman Caitlin Hurley are suffering from patella tendinitis, injuries which have effectively ended their cross-country seasons. Back and hip problems kept freshman phenom Karen Goetze, winner of this year's Greater Boston Invitational, off the women's course.
Due to the injuries, the Crimson's line-up featured four freshmen and no seniors.
"I think the inexperienced runners got intimidated and they spread out too quickly," said Griffin. "People were thrust into new roles unexpectedly and that put a lot of pressure on them."
The decimated line-up was powerless to compete with the meet's top teams. Cornell, a top-10 team nationally, delivered another dominating performance, capturing five of the top 10 individual spots. Dartmouth made a game effort to challenge the Big Red, but came up 17 points short.
Behind Dartmouth (48 points), Princeton (94), Navy (109), Brown (123) and Pennsylvania (147) came Harvard, with 160 points.
The Crimson managed to fed off Yale (197 points) and Columbia (237 points), but the team could find little solace in this dubious accomplishment.
"Our expectation was to improve on [last year's] second-place finish but considering the circumstances, this was the best we could have done," Griffin said.
The Crimson's top women finishers included junior Meredith Fitzgerald (18th out of 76, 18:59.0), freshman Jenny Martin (21st, 19:03.9), sophomore Alexandra Delaney (38th, 19:35.3), sophomore Megan Agy (42nd, 19:43.2), and junior Kelly Benke (48th, 19:57.6).