Underclassmen Power Bulldogs to Sixth-Place at Heps

Kevin Lunn (photo by Tim O'Dowd)
Kevin Lunn (photo by Tim O'Dowd)

Freshmen and Sophomores Account for 5 of Top 7 Elis

PRINCETON, N.J. – Behind a phenomenal showing from its younger runners, Yale placed sixth at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on Saturday at Princeton University. The Bulldogs' 158 team points landed them between fifth-place Harvard (131 points) and seventh-place Penn (185 points). No. 23 Princeton (26 points) upset No. 10 Columbia (58 points) to claim the team title for the third consecutive year.

Sophomore Matthew Nussbaum, who two weeks ago turned in the fastest 8K time by a Yale cross country runner in over four years, did himself one better by slicing another 21 seconds off of his personal record. Nussbaum finished 10th in 24:05.0, just behind the Cornell's Nick Wade (24:02.8), who is the fastest middle distance runner in Big Red history. The sophomore earned second-team All-Ivy honors for his outstanding effort.

Freshman Alex Conner also smashed his PR by 45 seconds, crossing the line in 24:41.1 for 35th place. Conner was the fifth-fastest freshman in the race. Senior captain Kevin Lunn was right behind him in 24:46.8 for 37th place. Senior Timothy Hillas (44th – 24:53.6) and sophomore Isa Qasim (48th – 24:58.3) both joined the Yale's sub-25-minute club, which, along with the addition of Conner, saw its ranks swell to eight on the season.

Largely on the strength of Nussbaum's individual effort but also due to the tight packing of the rest of the group, Yale's five scorers posted an average time of 24:41.2, by far its best of the year.

Acting as displacers for the Elis were sophomore John McGowan (55th – 25:09.8) and freshman Kevin Dooney (57th – 25:16.1). McGowan's time was an 11-second PR.

While Yale bettered its point tally from last year, it remained in sixth-place in the Ivy League for the second straight year. Nonetheless, times this year were significantly faster than last year, when the team's average time was more than a minute slower (25:47.3). And given the preponderance of underclassmen in the mix this year for the Bulldogs, the future looks bright for the team.

"We look at Heps as one of the meets that [serves] as a measuring stick of our improvement," said coach Paul Harkins before the race. "In the end, the name of the game is improvement and the goal is always to improve on where you finished a year ago."

The Elis have next week off before racing at the NCAA Regional Championships on Nov. 9 at Hammonasset State Park in Madison, Conn.

Report by Eian Katz '13, Yale Sports Publicity