The Harvard cross country teams finished their first race in New Hampshire in the same spot they would like to finish the season in October at the Heptagonal Championships.
On Saturday at the Wildcat Invitational, both the men and women’s teams finished in the top five, right in the thick of the competition for the victory in their five-mile races.
For the men’s team, the senior leadership and experience of Alasdair McLean-Foreman and captain Reed Bienvenu—both of whom finished in the top five—propelled the Crimson to a second-place overall finish. Harvard took second behind host UNH in a field of eleven schools.
In the women’s race, the Crimson took home fifth out of a field of 12, with the host school taking the championship and sweeping the meet.
“Today was a great indication of the quality of the team this year, and it was a really positive way to start out the season,” Bienvenu said. “This was the first time the team had run on the University of New Hampshire course, which turned out to be quite fast.”
McLean-Foreman showed no signs of rust from the off-season—and in position to be one of the best runners in the Northeast.
With the graduation of Heptagonals champion Steve Sundel, McLean-Foreman is poised to take over the role of best runner in the Ivy League.
Despite having a turbulent training summer, McLean-Foreman feels that the result this past weekend indicates he is ready for the season ahead.
Still in recovery from an injury to his Achilles, his time of 24:56.71 was good enough for an eight-second victory.
“As a result I missed the British Olympic trials in July, but I think that may bode well for my senior year as I’ve been able to put in consistent specific training over the summer geared directly to our cross country and track seasons,” McLean-Foreman said. “I’m much more prepared for this year as I’ve ever been and will give it everything in my last season for Harvard.”
Following behind McLean-Foreman and Bienvenu—who came in fourth place—was a slew of sophomore runners that are heading into this season more healthy and in better shape than ever before.
“It was a good gauge of the fitness level that we are starting off the season with,” Bienvenu said. “Particularly our younger runners had somebreak through performances.”
Sophomore Peter Mullen broke through in the meet by taking sixth place with a time of 25:20.73. The time was about a minute off his previous personal record from last season, a noticeable jump heading into his second season on the team.
“Paul Mullen had an incredible breakthrough,” McLean-Foreman said. “He’s been working really hard over the summer and will be a talent to watch this season.”
The Crimson’ other top two scorers—sophomore classmates Kevin Lyons in 26th and Devin Lyons-Quirk in 28th—both enter the season ready to make more of an impact than they were able to in their first season.
Last year, Lyons missed much of the season because of illness, and his presence among the top runners will boost the more experienced team this fall.
Alasdair and the team now look forward to two weeks from now when they will have a chance at the Iona Meet of Champions to prove themselves against the best competition in the Northeast.
Senior Lindsey Yourman might have felt a little funny doing some of the summer workouts in preparation for the cross country season, but after this past weekend’s result, Coach Frank Haggerty’s training looks to be paying off.
“As far as our summer training went, it was a little different than normal, as our Coach prescribed a lot of alternative exercises to running, which he calls ‘circuits,’” Yourman said.
The circuits included exercises like jumping jacks and leap frogs.
“I think that they made training a lot more interesting and fun,although somewhat embarrassing at times when noticed by anyone outside of the team,” Yourman said, “but at least they probably built character.”
Yourman set the pace for the Crimson by taking 11th place with a time of 18:40.50.
The junior class also posted a strong effort to help Harvard to its fifth place result. Laura Maludzinski took 14th with a time just four seconds behind Yourman.
Fellow junior and captain Danila Musante was the third best Harvard finisher, crossing the line in 32nd.
Musante has stepped into the team’s leadership role after one of its best runners and team leader Bev Whelan ’03 graduated last spring.
But the team does not believe that leadership will be an issue at all this fall.
“I think one of the biggest challenges for our team will be trying to stay injury-free throughout the season while still putting in the mileage that is required for us all to improve as much as we can by Heps,” Yourman said. “Our most important team goal right is to train so that we all peak at the right time.”
—Staff writer Gabriel M. Velez can be reached at email@example.com.