Bulldogs Open Season with Fairfield Invitational
First Glimpse of How this Season will Unfold
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale women’s cross country team will plunge into the 2009 season on Saturday at the Fairfield Invitational hosted by Fairfield University. After long indoor and outdoor track seasons, followed by a summer away and then most of August training together, the Bulldogs are ready to return to the long-distance competition of the fall.
The cross country team is well-rounded, with almost even representation from all four classes. Seven seniors and three juniors bring many combined years of experience on the courses that the Bulldogs will see during the season, led by senior captain Stephany Reaves.
“I’m really excited about this season,” Reaves said. “We’ve been in full gear training all summer, from wherever everyone was in the world. We only lost four seniors last year – though they had a great attitude and great performances – but every class should bring something to the team.”
The Bulldogs will sorely miss their top two runners from last year: 2008 captain Kelli Buck ’09 and Bevin Peters ’09, who consistently finished first and second, respectively, throughout the season.
Luckily there is experience among the top ranks: Reaves finished among Yale's top five runners at NCAA Regional Championships and ECAC Championships last fall, and competed at the Heptagonal Championships both last year and as a freshman (Reaves did not compete in the 2007 season due to injury). Her personal best for the 5k last season was 18:36 at the Murray Keatinge Invitational. Reaves is joined by other scoring seniors: Stephanie Pearl was a frequent top-five finisher, who began the season last year with a first-place finish at Fairfield, and Alexandra Cadicamo rounded out the five scoring runners at Heps with a 19:31.8 finish.
The core of the team’s strength this season will lie in some impressive sophomores: then-freshman Jennifer Downing ended the season as the reliable third-scoring Bulldog, with nearly identical finishes of 19:15 at Van Cortlandt Park, where both Heptagonals and ECACs were held. Classmate Anne Lovelace was seldom far behind her, though, with matching 19:20/19:21 finishes. These two women will be carrying much of the team as it heads to its first few meets.
Seven freshmen are also being added to the fold (Jennifer Donnelly, Victoria Flannery, Annelies Gamble, Phoebe Gaston, Caitlin Hudson, Nihal Kayali and Elizabeth Marvin), any one of whom could prove impressive as the season progresses, as Downing and Lovelace showed last year.
The women’s cross country team will get its first chance to try out all of these variables at the Fairfield Invitational this Saturday. The 5k course in Fairfield, Conn. is a fairly typical one, and the Bulldogs will get the opportunity to compete against several other local schools, including Fairfield, UConn, UMass-Amherst, University of New Haven, University of Bridgeport, and Siena.
“It’s a good meet for us to start the season,” Reaves explained, “because it’s small, and only half an hour away.”
Last year Yale won not only the team title but the individual one as well, with senior Pearl blazing into first place in 18:49.54. The Bulldogs won with only 24 points, with a 41 point margin between them and the second-place finishers. This year there are more teams competing, so it will be a slightly tougher field.
Report by Kyle Eichner '12, Yale Sports Publicity