Team Set to Compete in Season's Signature Event
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale men's cross country team travels to Amherst, N.Y., this Saturday to compete in its final guaranteed meet of the season, the NCAA Northeast Region Championship. Hosted by the State University of New York at Buffalo, the race will feature 39 teams vying for an NCAA Championship berth.
The top two teams from each region receive automatic invitations to the national meet, while other teams hope to be awarded one of 13 at-large bids. This year, the Northeast region is projected to receive at least two of those bids, owing to a highly competitive field that includes four nationally ranked teams in Iona (ninth), Columbia (22nd), Syracuse (29th) and Providence (30th).
At Heps, the Bulldogs improved upon their 2010 finish, and expect to do the same this weekend. They finished 11th in the meet last year, and this year enter the race ranked tenth in the region. Head coach Paul Harkins is realistic about his team's chances, but still thinks the Elis can make a splash.
"I want the guys to show that Yale cross country is going to be a factor in the years to come," he said. "If we can finish in the top seven or eight, it will be a big step forward for the program towards the goal of being nationally competitive."
Joining Yale at the starting line will be all of its familiar Ivy League foes except for Penn and Princeton, who are in the Mid-Atlantic regional. Yale has also met several of its Northeast opponents in previous meets this season.
The Bulldogs will be looking for strong performances from junior Kevin Lunn, senior Sam Lynch and senior captain Nathan Richards. Lunn has been the first Eli across the line at each of the previous two meets, while Lynch holds the team's fastest time of the season. Also representing the Bulldogs will be sophomore Michael Cunetta, junior Sam Kirtner, freshman Jacob Sandry, senior Julian Sheinbaum and junior Matthew Thwaites.
Having raced only twice in the past month, the Yale runners should be fresh heading into the culminating event of the season, and poised to perform at their peak.
"We have been focusing towards Regionals all year and are ready to have our best meet of the season," said Harkins. "We have had some good performances along the way, and Heps showed that the program is moving in the right direction, but a good day on Saturday will put an exclamation point on it!"
Unlike most of the races Yale has run, the regional meet will cover a distance of 10 kilometers. The gun for the men's side is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. The meet website may be found at www.buffalobulls.com, and results will be available at www.leonetiming.com and www.yalebulldogs.com.
Report by Eian Katz '13, Yale Sports Publicity