Team Looks for Strong Overall Finish
NEW HAVEN, Conn.—This Friday, the Bulldogs will return from a week of recovery to compete in one of the team's most anticipated races of the season—the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Although the team's members made many gains individually at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships two weeks prior, the overall outcome leaves them looking to bounce back with a solid team finish this week.
According to Head Women's Cross Country Coach Amy Gosztyla, the team will continue to look to senior Liana Epstein and junior Kira Garry for leadership as it enters what could be the final meet of the season. Friday's outcome determines which teams advance to the Division I NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov 23. Individuals will also have the chance to qualify based of their performances. While the top-two teams in each of the nine regions of the NCAA Division I automatically advance to the NCAA Championship meet, 13 remaining teams have the opportunity to advance to the meet by receiving an at-large bid—determined from a combination of the team's finish at the Regional Championship, as well as the races competed previously throughout the season. Individuals from teams that do not qualify as a whole must finish in the top 25 at the Regional meet to advance. They must also be among the top four individual finishers from teams that do not receive bids.
Yale will enter the meet ranked No. 13 in the Northeast Region. Providence leads the region, while Ivy League teams Dartmouth (No. 2), Cornell (No. 4), Harvard (No. 5), Columbia (No. 7), and Brown (No. 12), have all managed to rank among the top 15 as well. Still, as 40 teams will be participating in Friday's meet, the Bulldogs are likely to finish well ahead of the majority of the field.
While frontrunners such as Epstein and Garry may be have the best chance to qualify individually on Friday, the remaining runners—including senior captain Millie Chapman, juniors Hannah Alpert and Anna Demaree, sophomore Elizabeth McDonald and freshmen Chandler Olson and Meredith Rizzo—will be vital as the team looks to move up in the regional rankings.
Coach Gosztyla elaborated, saying, "Our next pack (after Epstein and Garry) has grown increasingly stronger as the season has progressed with strong performances by Meredith, Millie and Elizabeth." Coach Gosztyla also said that the team will attempt to further "tighten the spread" between its first and seventh runners, a time that has already decreased by at least 10 seconds this season.
At the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships held in Princeton, N.J., Rizzo finished as the team's second-best scorer, followed by McDonald and Chapman. A mere 12 seconds separated the three runners' 6,000-kilometer times. The performances of both McDonald and Rizzo were their best in the distance to date, and allowed them to overcome more than half the field of competitors from the eight Ivy League schools.
In addition, Olson was quick to show her potential this year, opening the season strong as the team's second-scorer at Harvard-Yale and continuing to impress as it progressed. Her contribution, along with those of Alpert and Demaree—two juniors who often finish closely together—will be necessary as the team prepares to challenge the 12 squads ranked just above it in the Northeast Region.
The women's race will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Friday. Results will be posted on yalebulldogs.com when available.
Report by Maria Seravalli '16, Yale Sports Publicity