BOSTON—When the Harvard cross-country team hosted Yale in the squads’ annual dual meet Friday afternoon at Franklin Park, it looked like the Crimson had set out to do more than just win. It wanted to put on a clinic.
The men’s and women’s teams demonstrated different strategies for topping their respective opponents, with the men employing clever tactics to barely hold off the Bulldogs, while the women simply strong-armed the competition.
The 97th meeting of the squads featured nearly full strength Harvard teams for the first time this season, as junior co-captains Claire Richardson and Jamie Olson as well as fellow junior Dan Chenoweth made their debuts for the Crimson. While the women steamrolled Yale on the way to a nearly perfect victory—placing nine of the top 10 runners, including the first six, for a 15-49 victory—the men needed every last second, with Chenoweth coming up huge.
The junior standout won his first race of the season in impressive fashion, blazing through the 8k course in 24:20 to lead Harvard to a narrow 26-29 victory. The time marked a personal best at Franklin Park for Chenoweth, and a 24-second victory for the All-Ivy selection. Along with Richardson’s dominant first-place performance on the women’s side, Harvard coach Jason Saretsky was pleased with his juniors’ solid showing.
“Both Dan and Claire executed their race plans really well,” Saretsky said. “They got the work in that they needed and it was great to see them come away with a victory.”
Chenoweth, though, was a known factor entering the race, having paired with captain Chas Gillespie to finish one-two against the Bulldogs last season. The question for the Crimson men was who could fill out the rest of the lineup—and on alumni weekend, it was the squad’s youth that delivered.
Freshmen Sean Pohorence, Jeremy Gilmour, and Phil Galebach helped junior Ryan Neely rounded out Harvard’s top five, claiming third, fifth, and ninth overall. Neely crossed the line in 25:13 for eighth.
Pohorence had a particularly strong showing, finishing just one second behind Yale’s top runner, in 24:45.
“I was really happy with [my race],” Pohorence said. “I was a little nervous at the beginning because there were a ton of Yale guys around us...I just tried to stick in there and not worry about what I was doing so much, just hang with their guys.”
The rookie did more than hang on, eventually separating himself from the bulk of the field and overcoming his nerves.
“I’m used to the shorter distance races,” added Pohorence, who trailed early in his first collegiate meet as he adjusted to the shift from the high school 5k. “But [today] we had enough time to get back.”
While Pohorence said he was not concerned with elaborate strategy in the dual meet, the rest of the squad used a solid game plan to overcome a Bulldog squad that topped the Crimson just two weeks ago.
“We had tactics to stick with Yale’s third guy,” Gilmour explained, “and then we felt pretty good so Sean, Ryan, and I stuck together and settled on Yale’s top two guys.”
The pack-running paid off for Harvard, as the Crimson managed to split the Bulldogs’ top performers. Although Gilmour and Neely fell of the pace a bit on the final hill, they and Galebach held on long enough to earn retribution for the team’s September defeat.
“I think we did really well, especially after the race a couple of weeks ago where it seemed like we could have done better,” Gilmour said. “The pressure was on this time, but I think everyone went out there and performed.”