October 24, 2013

Bulldogs Head to Nearby New Britain for CCSU Mini Meet

Roster Spots for Ivy League Heptagonal Championships Up for Grabs

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Coming off a strong performance at the competitive Pre-Nationals Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind., last weekend, the Yale men's cross country team will not travel far this weekend when it makes the trip to New Britain, Conn., to compete at the CCSU Mini Meet on Friday. The meet, hosted by Central Connecticut State University, gets its name from the fact that competitors only run a 5K course—shorter than the 8K course run at most meets throughout the season.

Competing at the meet for the first time last season, the Elis dominated the field, finishing first overall with 26 points. The second-place team finished well behind the Bulldogs with 86 points, and all five of Yale's scorers finished in the top 10 overall. This season's race figures to be more of a challenge for the team, as only one member of last year's top seven (junior Alec Borsook, who finished 14th overall) will be returning to the meet this season. The Bulldogs are resting many of their athletes this weekend, both because seven of their top runners ran at Pre-Nationals last weekend and because the important Ivy League Heptagonal Championships are scheduled for the weekend following the Mini Meet. As a result, this Friday's race will provide some of the Elis' younger and less experienced athletes with a chance to shine. Of the seven runners slated to travel to New Britain, four are freshmen. 

Head Men's Cross Country Coach Paul Harkins said he plans to use the results from Friday's race to help determine which runners receive the remaining spots to compete in the Heptagonal Championships.

"I like to see who is able to respond when there is a little bit of pressure involved,"
 said Harkins.

The Bulldogs who compete at the Mini Meet should expect some familiar regional competition. This year's field will likely look similar to last year's, which featured the likes of Boston University, CCSU, Hartford, Providence and University of New Haven. At this point in the season, Providence, CCSU and Boston University are slotted fourth, eighth and 12th, respectively, in the USTFCCCA's Northeast Region rankings. Yale is currently ranked seventh in the region.

In addition to Borsook, the only other non-freshmen scheduled to compete in Friday's 5K are sophomore Will Botta and junior Tom Harrison. Harrison (25:18) and Borsook (26:01) both set 8K personal records when they last competed two weeks ago at the New England Championships, finishing second and fourth on the team, respectively. Harrison also finished in Yale's top seven at the Iona Meet of Champions earlier in the season. Botta, meanwhile, will be competing for just the second time this season. 

The freshmen scheduled to run in New Britain are Ryan Douglas, Dan Grosvenor, David Hatch and Spike Sievert. Of the four, Douglas and Grosvenor have competed the most regularly this season. The pair ran at the Harvard-Yale meet, Iona Meet of Champions, New England Championships and Paul Short Invitational.

Even with the postseason on the horizon, Harkins is looking forward to the Mini Meet for its own sake.

"It will be exciting to see them get out hard and get after it on a much shorter course," he said.

Friday's race will begin at 3:30 p.m. Results will be available on www.yalebulldogs.com following the conclusion of the meet. 

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity