October 27, 2009

Bulldogs Excited to Compete at Heptagonals Championship

Ivy League Championship Held at Van Cortlandt Park

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Bulldogs will travel to Van Cortlandt Park in New York, N.Y., on Friday to compete in the 61st Ivy League Heptagonals Cross Country Championship. Columbia is hosting the event, at which all eight Ivy League schools will be present to compete.

Last year Princeton won the Championship, led by Liz Costello, who won the meet setting Ivy League records in both total course time and in her margin of victory. Costello is now a senior at Princeton, and will most likely be running again.

Van Cortlandt Park is one of the most well-known cross country courses on the east coast. Located in the borough of the Bronx, the fourth-largest park in New York stands out with its wide expanse of greenery (over 1,000 acres). There are several different courses in the park, which involve both the flats and the back hills. This year the park is undergoing renovations, so the course is different than it has been in previous years.

The Bulldogs have already competed once at Van Cortlandt this season, and it was their best meet. At the Iona Meet of Champions, the top Bulldogs ran together in an incredibly tight pack, working together throughout the entire race, and finishing with only eight seconds between top finisher freshman Elizabeth Marvin and Yale’s fifth, sophomore Anne Lovelace. There were only 15 seconds between Marvin and senior Alexandra Cadicamo, who was the seventh Bulldog across the line.

When the Bulldogs last competed nearly two weeks ago at the re-organized Penn State National (which took place in Lock Haven, Pa.), they also managed to run together despite the mud and snow, and the spread between the first and the fifth runner was 35 seconds; this is not nearly as dramatic as eight, but was still better than almost every other team at the meet.

The Bulldogs will be looking to their freshmen to help pull their weight this weekend, particularly Marvin, who performed well at Van Cortlandt last time, and Nihal Kayali, who was Yale’s first at the Penn State/Lock Haven meet, and has been a consistent performer throughout the season. Upperclassmen to pay attention to are Lovelace and seniors Cadicamo, Stephanie Pearl and captain Stephany Reaves.

“There is something special about the Ivy League Championships because of the tradition and pride in lining up against all of the Ivy League schools at once,” Reaves said. “It's particularly special because Cross Country and Track are the only sports that call it the Heptagonals, and because this meet is always run at Van Cortlandt Park, and has been with few exceptions since 1939 (well, 1977 for the women). It's not an easy course, but at Heps the difficulty of the venue contributes to the experience.”

The Bulldogs have been training hard for the meet. The fall training schedule is focused towards top performances at the end of October and the beginning of November.

We’re encouraged by what we’re seeing in practice,” said Mark Young ’68, Yale’s Mark T. Young ’68 Director of Cross Country and Track and Field. “We hope that that translates to a better finish. The attitude has been great. The work ethic has been great, and we are going to go in with optimism. ”

“Our objective is to be better than we were last year,” Young said. “We want to run the best race of the year so far. We have to have the kind of grouping we had at the Iona Meet – six people pretty close together – and those people have to be closer to the front. I think that we’re capable of doing that.”

Reaves also noted: “I'm also excited because Cross Country isn't a huge spectator sport, but the Heps is a meet that parents, alumni, and friends make a special effort to come to. I know that several of my teammates from the classes of 2009 and 2008 will be there, and so we're excited to get out there and make them proud.”

The women’s race starts at 11:15 a.m., followed by the men’s race at 12:15 p.m. More information about the meet can be found at IvyLeagueTrack.com and HepsTrack.com. Results will be posted at Plattsys.com and YaleBulldogs.com after the race.

Report by Kyle Eichner ’12, Yale Sports Publicity