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A grueling week of two-a-day practices is not the ideal way to prepare for a race, but the Harvard men’s and women’s cross-country teams showed few signs of fatigue as they posted solid performances at the Boston College Select Meet in Franklin Park on Friday.
The men’s team placed sixth out of nine teams while the women’s team finished right in the middle of the pack, taking fifth out of 10.
In the men’s 7,945-meter race, the Crimson was led by junior Alasdair McLean-Foreman, who missed last season but made an impressive return with an eighth-place finish in a time of 24:48. Junior captain Reed Bienvenu narrowly missed a top-ten finish, taking 14th in 25:12.
“We had a hard week of practice leading up the race so we weren’t expecting anything great, but a lot of people ran PRs (personal records),” said junior Devin Lyons-Quirk, who placed 51st. “I think everyone demonstrated the fact that we worked hard this summer and are focused for the season.”
Despite the difficulty of the workouts, pre-season ran smoothly and a slew of impressive performances this weekend capped off a positive start to the season.
“Pre-season was a great opportunity for us to get together as a team and ease into the season,” Lyons-Quirk said. “This meet was a good starting place and a chance to see where everyone is individually.”
While Harvard was not concerned with team results, the team did get a chance to see Brown, who will be one of its main challengers at the Heptagonals later in the season. Brown finished second and posted two top-ten finishers.
The Crimson raced this weekend without its freshmen, who start practicing with the team today.
“We have a large and capable freshman class joining us this week,” said junior Russell Leino (25:42), who finished 36th. “The bottom line is that we are a young and somewhat inexperienced group but we have a solid core and very good potential for later this year.”
“Once we add the freshman to the mix it will be amazing,” Lyons-Quirk said. “On paper we don’t look that great, but I think we can surprise a lot of people.”
Because of the team’s lack of experience there is a lot of room for newcomers to make their mark quickly.
“You never know who will be number one—the top five is not set in stone so that really pushes us to compete amongst ourselves,” Lyons-Quirk said. “We lost a lot of seniors but there are a lot of people ready to fill in the gaps.”
The Crimson’s next challenge will be at the Iona Invitational on September 27 in New Rochelle, New York, where the team will get another shot at Brown and a chance to see Columbia, another Heps opponent.
While the men’s team is placing its stock in its young runners, the Harvard women hope that experience will be on their side as they try to bounce back from last year’s slightly disappointing season. If this weekend is any indication, their hopes may be realized.
The senior tandem of Beverly Whelan (18:25) and Mairead O’Callaghan (18:52) led the way for the Crimson, placing 12th and 19th, respectively, in the 5,015-meter race. They were trailed closely by junior Kimberly Smith (18:58) and senior Virginia Scott (19:10), who took 22nd and 30th. Laura Maludzinski (19:14), last year’s freshman phenom, rounded out Harvard’s top five in 34th place. As a team, the Crimson ran better times than they have at the Boston College meet in the past two years.
“We wanted our top five to finish close together and we all finished within a minute of one another,” Whelan said. “Our training is already paying off.”
Like the men, the women were not overly concerned with team scores but used the meet as a building block for the season.
“It was important to establish base times that we can work from,” O’Callaghan said. “We have a lot of races at Franklin Park this year so it was important to get to know the course.”
Harvard also got a preview of Brown’s squad, which finished third but beat the Crimson by a narrower margin than last year.
Throughout the season the Crimson hopes to keep a very tight pack in the top five to pull each other along and break up other teams’ finishers.
“Most of our top five has been running together for two years now,” O’Callaghan said.
To cement the bond of its frontrunners, eight of the returning athletes took a trip to a secluded cabin in the Adirondacks before pre-season for four days of hill workouts.
The Crimson women will join the men on September 27 at the Iona Invitational.
—Staff writer Christopher Schonberger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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