A week after duking it out with some of the top teams in the nation at the Battle for Beantown, the Harvard men and women’s cross country teams traveled to Lehigh University to participate in the Paul Short Invitational.
The race gave many Crimson runners who are outside the top seven the chance to run and compete against teams from around the nation as well as Ivy League foes, while many of the previous week’s competitors got a much deserved rest.
Harvard highlighted its depth as the women finished 13th for the 6k race in a field of 38 led by senior captain Jen Guidera while the men took 32nd in a 42 team 8k race behind senior Nephat Maritim.
“This was a little bit of a mixed lineup for us,” head coach Jason Saretsky said. “Most of our top kids were competing the weekend before. This was a great opportunity for some of our other student athletes to get out there and get real, high level competition.”
The women provided a strong showing as Guidera clocked in with a time of 21:13, good enough for a 55th place finish. She was followed by sophomore Sarah Gillespie, who joined her in the top 100 with a 21:20, giving her a 64th place finish.
Gillespie was followed by classmates Rachel Hampton and Stephanie Deccy who joined their teammates at the finish with times of 21:45 and 21:49, finishing in 98th and 110th place. Freshman Elianna Shwayder completed the scoring with an 139th place finish and a time of 22:05, assuring all five runners finished in the top half of the 325 women field.
“I thought we performed really well [and] everyone put it out there,” Guidera said. “We had some people take a risk in the first mile and it didn’t pay off for some and it paid off for others, but overall we ran a pretty tough race.”
On the men’s side, the Crimson were led by Maritin, who crossed the line with a time of 24:31 finishing in 32nd place. It would be more than two minutes before Harvard would see another runner cross the line, as junior Johnny Marvin joined his teammate with a time of 25:41, finishing in 158th.
The rest of the scoring contingency for the men crossed the line soon after Marvin, as he was followed by senior Ryan Meehan, sophomore Evan Grandfield and senior Carl Ward. The three clocked in with times of 25:52, 26:00 and 26:06 respectively, earning 191st, 205th and 225th places finishes in a field of 358 runners.
With many of the team’s top performers resting during the weekend, the race demonstrated the depth of the team, as Harvard continues to improve.
Though the invitational proved to be a faster race then the Battle of Beantown, the times and average pace achieved by runners such as Maritim, Guidera and Gillespie still compare favorably to those posted by their teammates the prior week.
“It’s a good push for everyone on the team,” Guidera said. “It’s definitely going to inspire and excite the people who are running faster so it was a good race in that sense.”
Having a deep team allows runners to push each other, helping improve team and individual performance by emulating a competitive environment. With only seven runners making it to NCAA regionals, having a deep team is vital for the Crimson to enter with the strongest team possible.
“I’ve always felt for a long time that if you’re going to have a national caliber team you have to have at least 8 [runners] that are vying for those top seven spots,” Saretsky said. “I think on [both] sides we have more than that, so it’s exciting for our program [and] it speaks for our depth.”
Harvard will take a weekend off before the squad splits into two teams to compete at the prestigious Wisconsin Adidas Invitational and the Princeton Invite on October 17th and 18th.
—Staff writer Julio Fierro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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