Historic Rivalry to Open Women’s Cross Country Season

Liana Epstein (credit Jim Hudson).
Liana Epstein (credit Jim Hudson).

Bulldogs Evenly Matched with Harvard

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The Yale Women's 2013 Cross Country season will begin on Saturday with the annual Harvard-Yale meet, a historic rivalry. This year, the team will travel to Boston to compete at Franklin Park. The meet takes place at alternating sites annually, sometimes including Princeton, but always pitching the two Ivy League competitors head to head in a challenging race.

Head Women's Cross Country Coach Amy Gosztyla weighed in on the meet, explaining that the two teams were "competitive" and "closely matched." Still, in the past two years, the well-rounded Yale cross country team has proven too much for the Crimson runners. In fact, one of Yale's upperclassman frontrunners, Liana Epstein, took first at the meet in 2012 and second the year before. Two other returning Bulldogs—senior captain Millie Chapman and sophomore Emily Stark—placed in the meet's top seven, while only one Harvard competitor accomplished this feat.

Unlike in previous years, the meet will serve as both teams' inaugural race. While Saturday's outcome will act as a challenging starting point for the Bulldogs, they will compete with an eye towards the season's end, especially the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, Northeast Regional meet, and NCAA Regional Championships. The Regional meet will include not only Harvard, but also teams—including Cornell, Columbia, and Dartmouth—ranked highly in the region. Yale is currently No. 9, while Harvard stands at No. 4. Coach Gosztyla emphasized the importance of facing off against regional competitors, saying that while Saturday's meet would ideally go the way of the Bulldogs, it was ultimately more important to outrun the Crimson later in the season- thus placing the team in a good position to overcome even more challenging competitors when it matters most.

Though seniors Chapman and Epstein are likely to dominate the meet as in years past, they will be supported by the talents of their teammates. Juniors Hannah Alpert, Anna Demaree and Kira Garry, as well as sophomore Elizabeth McDonald are all expected to make significant contributions to the team effort—strengthened as they are by summer training exertions.

Not to be forgotten are the seven promising freshmen balancing out the Bulldogs this season. Harvard welcomed the same number of recruits, including two who hold sub-18-minute personal records. Yet here the two Ivies are again evenly matched, as the Bulldogs also boast of two incoming members with similar 5k times. Rachel Jones (Carrollton, Texas) and Chandler Olson (Woodinville, Wash.) will likely be the pair to watch as they match their contenders' talents in their first collegiate competition.

The meet will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. Results will be posted on yalebulldogs.com when available.

Report by Maria Seravalli '16, Yale Sports Publicity