NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's cross country team heads to New Jersey this weekend to face again its longtime rivals for the highly anticipated Harvard-Yale-Princeton tri meet. All three teams are ranked among the top 30 in the nation, with Princeton being ranked third in the Mid-Atlantic Region according to this polls released by the USTFCCCA this week. The course on West Windsor Fields will be the grounds for the upcoming Heptagonal Championships, thus offering the team a litmus test of where they stand against their Ivy League rivals. It also offers a preview of what might go down in a few short months.
The women's Cross Country Coach Amy Gosztyla stated her excitement about this weekend's meet, commenting, "We're looking forward to seeing where we are at for this time of year, and we will use this as our team's starting spot to build off of for the rest of the season." Gosztyla expressed confidence in the team's ability to put together a glowing performance this weekend noting, "The team is really working well together and it is a very experienced group."
In fact, all of Yale's top cross country runners from last year are opening up their seasons this weekend. Many of these athletes are coming off very strong track seasons. For example, junior Dana Klein made vast improvements in her speed during the winter with a fantastic personal best in the mile, while also turning in the fourth-fastest time in the steeplechase in the spring. Junior Meredith Rizzo produced some strong times in the mile and 1,500-meter runs, both some of the fastest in Yale history. This does not begin to include the other extraordinary runners making their season debuts, like senior captain Frances Schmiede, an All-American athlete who set records in both the mile and 1,500-meter runs. Across the board, the athletes that put together the Bulldogs' strongest cross country season in years are returning even stronger.
But beyond these top athletes, what sets the Bulldogs from the competition is their depth: the Bulldogs are coming off a big opening win at the Fordham Fiasco, led by junior Katherine Raphael. Two recruits from the incoming freshman class scored for the Bulldogs at the meet and most of the Bulldogs finished in the top third of the race.
Gosztyla also articulated on the importance of this meet for the team's future directions this season. She noted, "This meet is also a great opportunity to get on the Ivy League Heptagonals Championship course, and compete against our biggest rivals in the league – Harvard and Princeton." In fact, last season the team was second at Heps, only succumbing to the Tigers. The team also looks to bounce back from last year's third-place finish at this meet.
This seems like a very likely possibility, evident in the team's higher ranking. At this time last season, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 10 in the region, and were not even ranked nationally. According to this week's USTFCCCA polls, Yale is ranked No. 3 in the Northeast region and No. 29 nationally. This is probably a result of placing second and fifth at the Heptagonal and NCAA Regional, respectively, at the end of last season.
The meet starts at 10:00 a.m in West Windsor Fields. Results will be posted as soon as they become available.
Preview by Ariel A. Sánchez '19, Yale Sports Publicity