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Ten Bulldogs Set PRs as Team Races to Best Heps Finish Since 2006

Kevin Dooney. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Kevin Dooney. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Dooney Leads Way, Finishes First on Team for Third Time this Season

PRINCETON, N.J.—The Yale men's cross country team continued its streak of solid performances with a fifth-place finish at the always competitive Ivy League Heptagonal Championships (Heps) on Saturday. With 116 points, the Bulldogs trailed only Columbia (48 points, ranked 10th nationally), Princeton (56 points, ranked 15th nationally), Dartmouth (64 points, ranked sixth in the Northeast Region) and Harvard (103 points, ranked 21st nationally). The Bulldogs fifth-place showing marked its best performance at Heps since 2006, when the team placed fourth overall.

Ten of the twelve Elis competing in Saturday's 8K race set personal records. With only two seniors competing, the Bulldogs' younger runners stepped up, as three of the team's top five were either freshmen or sophomores.

"They ran really well today," said Head Men's Cross Country Coach Paul Harkins. "We really closed the gap on the four teams ahead of us."

Sophomore Kevin Dooney (23:56.6) led the Bulldogs thanks in part to an impressive final two-mile split, in which he moved up four spots—from 12th to eighth. For the third time this season, Dooney set a personal record, shattering his previous top time by approximately 36 seconds. Saturday's race also marked the third time this season that Dooney finished first on the team. With his eighth-place finish, Dooney earned second team All-Ivy honors.

Following Dooney was a pack of Bulldogs, including junior John McGowan (24th – 24:26.4), sophomore Alex Conner (26th – 24:29.2), junior Isa Qasim (27th – 24:29.4) and freshman James Randon (31st – 24:32.9). The four were the team's final scorers of the race, and all set personal records. Conner and McGowan continued to be among the Bulldogs' most consistent runners, and the duo has now finished in the team's top three in every race in which they have competed this season. Qasim, meanwhile, registered his top team finish of the season, outrunning his previous best time by nearly 30 seconds. For his part, Randon continued what has been a tremendous freshman campaign, breaking the 25:00 mark for the second time and finishing in the team's top five for the fourth time. Randon closed especially strong, moving up 13 spots in the race's final two miles.

Rounding out the team's top seven were sophomore Duncan Tomlin (49th – 24:48.2) and senior Michael Cunetta (59th – 25:03.2). Both set personal records. Tomlin has now finished in the team's top seven in all five races in which he has competed this season, while Cunetta finished in the top seven for the fourth time of the year.

The team's next finisher was freshman Andre Ivankovic (71st – 25:16.1), followed immediately by junior Tom Harrison (72nd – 25:16.2). The rest of the team included freshman Dan Grosvenor (80th – 25:21.2), senior Ryan Laemel (84th – 25:32.4) and junior Alec Borsook (94th – 26:45.4). Grosvenor, Harrison and Ivankovic all recorded personal best times.

Saturday's team showing was especially significant because it demonstrated the squad's improvement since the beginning of the season. After allowing Harvard to take the top five spots at the Harvard-Yale season opening race, the Elis finished just 13 points behind the Crimson at Heps and displayed solid depth, with four runners placing ahead of Harvard's third finisher.

"Finishing 13 points behind Harvard shows how far we have come from the beginning of the season," said Harkins. "It's exciting to know that we had our highest finish since 2006 and have everyone returning for next year. Can't wait to be back."

With a postseason race under their belt, the Bulldogs get next weekend off before heading to New York City for the NCAA Division I Northeast Regional Championships on Nov. 15.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity