The third time was the charm on Saturday for Harvard’s cross-country team, as it traveled down to Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, N.Y. for the third time in four weeks and reaped personal best times. The women’s team finished second in the 11-team ECAC Championships field, and out of the 15 teams competing in the men’s IC4A Championships, the men placed 11th.
“It was a good note to end on,” Crimson coach Jason Saretsky said. “For so many of our athletes to run their season-bests, their career-bests, at Van Cortlandt was just great to see.”
On the women’s side, rookie Nichole Cochran took first place overall with a time of 18:04 in the 5K race. Her time was almost a half-minute off her Heptagonals time of 18:27 at Van Cordlandt.
“I think, for a lot of our freshmen, there’s a difficult transition going from always being up front,” Saretsky said. “Nichole comes from a strong program, so I think that transition has been easier for her. But it really clicked for her. She was up front and she made the most of it.”
Rounding out Harvard’s scorers, sophomore Jamie Olson clocked in at 18:22, 11th overall and the Crimson’s second finisher. Newcomer Kailyn Kuzmuk shaved 20 seconds off her Heptagonals time, 18:50, crossing the finish line at 18:29 for an overall place of 16th and third among Harvard runners.
Sophomores Eliza Ives and Meghan Houser finished 23rd and 28th, respectively, and rounded out Harvard’s scoring. Ives timed in at 18:43, about a minute and a half down from her Heptagonals finish, while Houser came in at 18:50.
“We have a bunch of girls with a lot of talent,” sophomore Claire Richarson said of the depth on the women’s side. “Everyone’s there working together, so if one person’s gone, there’s another one there to pick it up.”
Sophomores Nichole Slykhous, Meghan Cleary, and Thea Lee and freshmen Jeanne Mack, Alison Lee, Elizabeth Heller, and Kirsten Jorgenson also competed in the race.
For the men, freshman Dan Stiles led the Crimson with a 39th-place, 26:05 finish in the five-mile race, down from his 26:27 finish at Heps.
Sophomore Ryan Neely and rookie Stephen Couch finished just a hair apart, taking back-to-back 47th and 48th spots with times of 26:11 and 26:12, respectively.
“I think our first four runners ran faster than they did at their first times at Van Cortlandt,” Saretsky said. “It was great to have them take off 30 seconds or even a minute in the case of Stephen Couch.”
Freshman Michael Hoffman finished the race at 26:27—63rd overall—and junior Stephen Chester’s time of 26:46 was good enough for 82nd overall and rounded out Harvard’s team scoring.
Junior Robert Kenney and newcomer Darcy Wilson also competed for the Crimson.
Absent from Saturday’s races were Richardson on the women’s side and fellow sophomore Dan Chenoweth on the men’s. Both qualified for the NCAA National Championship, which takes place today in Terre Haute, Ind.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for two sophomores to get some experience running at this level,” Saretsky said. “They did a great job out there for pre-nationals, and it will be great for them to get some more experience for when we hopefully go out there as a team next year.”
—Staff writer Dixon McPhillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.