NEW HAVEN , Conn. - The Yale men's cross country team will begin its 2018 season this Saturday at the Fordham Fiasco held at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. For the Bulldogs, this meet has historically been treated as a transition into the 8,000m college race distance for first-years, as well as a return to competition for athletes recovering from injuries. Many of the Bulldogs' core runners will not see competition until the Harvard-Yale meet the following weekend.
While the competition this weekend may not be as challenging, the Fordham Fiasco will prove valuable with its venue. The course at Van Cortlandt Park is the site for the 2019 Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, and frequently hosts important meets each season. Whatever the Bulldogs learn from this race will become valuable next year for the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. At this meet in 2016, the Bulldogs placed five runners in the top ten, and won the meet with 27 points. This year, they will send eight competitors to race, and will be reaching for similar success as that 2016 squad.
Cade Brown, Robert Miranda, Brendan Murray, Evan Pattinelli and Harrison Smith will represent the first-year class, in their first collegiate cross country race. Being that the standard race distance in high school is 5,000m, the most important thing these runners will learn this weekend is how to navigate a much longer distance. In the 2017 season, the Bulldogs relied heavily on first-years, so there might be something to prove for these runners this weekend. If anything, the first-years should leave this meet tuned-up for the Harvard-Yale meet and the remainder of the long season.
Alex Whittaker will be the lone sophomore competing for the Bulldogs. This will mark Whittaker's first collegiate cross country race as well, as he only competed on the track last year. He specializes in middle distance races, so he has the strength and speed to find success over an 8,000m cross country race.
Austin Stoner and Kohl Swift will be the oldest Elis in the race, both representatives of the junior class. Like Whittaker, Stoner and Swift tend to stick to middle distance races on the track, but plan to race a full cross country season this year. Both athletes have a lot of power in their strides, so they will prove themselves to be major assets to the Bulldogs this fall.
Stoner, when asked about being the only member of this weekend's squad to have competed in a collegiate cross country race, and what the Bulldogs are looking to accomplish at the meet, commented, "The point of this weekend's meet is for those guys to put in good work and practice getting through the 8,000m distance. We're trying to work as a pack and make smart decisions over the course of the race. This meet is even more important for the younger guys, as Heps will be at this course twice for them during their time at Yale."
A recap and results will be posted following the completion of the race Saturday morning.
Report by Zachary Capello '19, Yale Sports Publicity