Cross country prepares for Heps
This Saturday, both the men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete in Princeton, New Jersey for the Ivy League Heptagonal Championship. The women’s team will try to defend its title from last season, Dartmouth’s first since a four-peat that ended in 1997. The men’s side looks to claim its first championship since 2005.
“It’s personal,” women’s captain Sarah DeLozier ’15 said. “My co-captain Alison Lanois [’15] says that our Heps rings expire on Saturday.”
Though the men’s team faces a longer drought than the women do, having finished third last season, the Big Green still feels confident entering Saturday’s race.
“I’m really stoked for the Heps, we are looking really good team-wise and I think we have a golden opportunity to win the Ivy title,” men’s captain Silas Talbot ’15 said.
The road ahead won’t be easy. The women’s team finished behind Brown University at the Rothenberg Run on Oct. 17, though Dartmouth’s top runners were competing at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. Aside from that race, the women have finished as the best Ivy team in every competition.
Princeton University, which the Dartmouth women’s team have yet to face this season, should be the women’s top competition at Heps. The Tigers were ranked 25th in the most recent United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, while the Big Green placed 26th.
The men’s top competition should also be Princeton, last year’s runner-up and owner of six titles from 2006 to 2012. Harvard University and Columbia University also stand a chance at taking Heps.
“Princeton did beat us two weeks ago in Wisconsin, but only by a tiny margin,” Talbot said. “I think it’s this underdog mentality that is going to push us that much harder on Saturday and help us stay focused on the task at hand.”
The competition won’t be the only obstacle on Saturday. The weather at past Heptagonal Championships has played a major role. A snowy 2011 brought times down by nearly 90 seconds while 2012 and 2013 provided near-perfect running conditions. This week, weather forecasts project a 40 percent chance of precipitation in Princeton as well as chilly temperatures and high winds.
“There is the possibility of snow and apparently that’s our thing,” DeLozier said. “So we’re packing a pair of gloves and not doing anything different.”
Preparation has included a combination of training and relaxing. Men’s head coach Barry Harwick said the team has done some hard running since its last meet, but now is focused on rest.
“This week we’re wearing our Heps rings, being accountable about going to sleep on time, avoiding sick people, listening to rap music,” DeLozier said.
Both teams have prepared the entire season for this weekend, and Talbot said the team’s depth reflects the intensity of its summer training.
Succeeding Saturday will require a team effort, Harwick said.
The teams’ seasons will not end Saturday at Heps. They will both compete in the NCAA Northeast Regionals in New York, on Nov. 14. A top-two finish at regionals automatically qualifies a team for the national championships, on Nov. 22. Even if the teams fall short of that benchmark, they could qualify via an at-large bid.
A strong performance at Heps would certainly help the Big Green’s case for an at-large bid. Both the men’s and women’s teams qualified for Nationals last year, though neither finished in the top 15.