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When the Big Three met at Yalta in 1945, the "Evil Empire" walked away with a victory.
The Ivy League's version of the Big Three met in cross-country action at New Haven yesterday, and once again, the "Evil Empire" triumphed.
Both the men's and women's teams from Yale assumed the role of the overaggressive Stalin, leaving Harvard and Princeton wondering how they had let the Elis get the better of them.
In the men's race, Yale outdistanced Harvard, 31-41. Princeton's 60 points placed it a distant third.
On the women's side, the Elis outdistanced the Crimson, 22-38, while Princeton finished in third with 47 points.
"We were disappointed," said Harvard men's Captain Rob Benjamin. "We wanted to win it."
The Crimson's cause was hampered by injuries to two of its top runners. Chris Woodward, who has usually finished between second and fourth for the Crimson (5-3) this season, was slowed by a knee injury, and was only the 10th Crimson runner to cross the line.
Rob Failla was slowed by seven stitches in his leg, the result of an injury incurred at the Greater Boston Championships two weeks ago. Failla, usually a high finisher, was only the 11th-best Harvard runner yesterday.
Skardon Baker paced the Crimson early, holding the lead after the first mile. However, Baker soon faded. The bulk of the race was paced by the Yale tandem of Jim Gibson and Jake Michel and Princeton's Bill Burke. Gibson and Burke dueled to the finish, with Burke coming out on top, covering the five-mile course in 25:58. Gibson finished second, a mere three seconds back.
Harvard was paced by junior Spencer Punter, who led the race's second pack and finished fourth in 26:36. Benjamin was the second Harvard runner to place, crossing the tape in seventh place. Senior Andrew Webster was ninth, while Michael Evans and Todd Wells rounded out the Harvard scoring by finishing in 10th and 11th place.
"We had some bright spots," Benjamin said. "Webster ran a good race, and Evans just had a stellar race. We also seem to be narrowing the gap between the pack and Spencer."
The women's team (2-3) was not so upbeat about its performance.
"We didn't run as well as we should have," said Captain Sarah Wilcox. "People were a little unnerved today."
The early pace of the race was one factor that unnerved the Crimson. An extremely slow first mile surprised Harvard.
"We thought we should have gone out much harder," Wilcox said.
After the lethargic first mile, a pack of Yale and Princeton runners led by Elis Captain Sarah Smith--the eventual winner--pulled away. The closest Harvard finisher was Rachel Lewis, who covered 3.1-mile course in 18:47 to finish fifth.
A significant disparity between Lewis and her teammates cost the Crimson valuable points. Freshman Alais Griffin was the second Harvard finisher, but the 11th overall. Karin Swartz, Katie Maggs and Jenny Schenk rounded out the Crimson scoring, finishing 13th, 14th and 15th, respectively.
Both the men's and the women's teams will have an opportunity to avenge today's defeats during next week's Heptagonal Championships at Van Cortland Park in New York City.
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