Women’s Cross Country Bests Harvard, Falls Narrowly to Princeton

Liana Epstein. (photo by dspics.com)

Epstein Second At HYP

BOSTON – On Saturday the women's cross country team defeated Harvard but fell to Princeton in another closely-contested meet. Sophomore Liana Epstein was the first finisher for the Bulldogs, placing second overall just behind senior All-American Alex Banfich of Princeton. The team compiled 36 points, just nine more than Princeton (27). Harvard was last of the three squads with 71 points.

The Bulldogs' performance represents a significant improvement over last year's HYP contest, which saw Yale place third with 68 points. Individually, the first Yale finisher at HYP 2010 was tenth overall; this year, four Bulldogs were in the top ten of 45 runners.

"The main focus was to beat Harvard, which the team hadn't done at this meet in five years," said head coach Amy Gosztyla, "so it was a great accomplishment for the women to do this today. We also gave Princeton another great run, losing to them by nine points for the second week in a row."

Epstein covered the 5k course in 17:39, just six seconds behind Banfich and a mere two seconds in front of Princeton's second finisher, junior Alexis Mikaelian. Saturday was Epstein's collegiate debut, making her performance all the more impressive. Sophomore Melissa Chapman was sixth in 17:45, followed by junior Elizabeth Marvin in seventh, also at 17:45. Junior Caitlin Hudson also scored for the Bulldogs, placing ninth in 17:51. Junior Jacque Sahlberg rounded out the scoring contingent in 12th place at 17:58.

Junior Nihal Kayali was not far off the pace in 15th (18:05). Freshman Kira Garry also posted a top-20 finish for Yale (18th- 18:19). Sophomore Sarah Barry (25th- 18:41), junior Jennifer Donnelly (28th- 19:03), freshman Hannah Alpert (36th- 19:26), senior Madeline Adams (37th- 19:27), freshman Alyssa Laguardia (40th- 19:44) and senior Kristin Johnson (44th- 20:09) also competed wearing Yale blue.

The team finished in a tightly packed group; all five scorers were within 19 seconds of each other. This finish was a continuation of their strategy last week at the season-opening Fordham Invitational: to stay together and try to place high in the pack. By contrast, Princeton's top five were within 22 seconds of each other and Harvard's first and fifth runners finished 50 seconds apart.

"I'm very pleased with how well the women's team is coming together right now," said Gosztyla. We are having multiple individuals contributing as scorers, which bodes well for our continued success this season."

The Bulldogs are back in action on Sep. 30 at the Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa. 

Report by Natalie Villa '13, Yale Sports Publicity