Cross country opens season with Dartmouth Invitational wins

| 9/16/15 6:01pm

The Big Green’s cross country teams opened their fall seasons in dominant fashion, taking first place in both the men’s and women’s races of the Dartmouth Invitational at the Hanover Country Club this past Saturday. Both the men and women recorded perfect team scores of 15 points in the home meet.

“Going in, the expectation was to put a solid race together,” women’s head coach Courtney Jaworski said. “We knew that it was a meet that we should win.”

Leading the way for the women’s team was Dana Giordano ’16, who won her second consecutive title at the Dartmouth Invitational. She completed the six-kilometer distance in 21:33.81. Close behind her was Leigh Moffett ’18, who pushed the pace in the middle of the race and finished at second in 21:40.86.

“We expected to pack up the first half of the race and then to move on the back end,” Giordano said. “Everyone did a fantastic job of working together and shifting up groups to secure the first [10] spots.”

Rounding out the top five finishers and securing the perfect team point total for Dartmouth were Helen Schlachtenhaufen ’17, Reid Watson ’16 and Elizabeth Markowitz ’16. The women’s team ended the race with an impressive lead over all four competing schools, as the women swept the first 10 places of the race.

“[Giordano] winning the race was wonderful — we kind of count on having her in front running well,” Jaworski said. “Moffett made some great improvements from last year and also ran a great race.”

In the men’s race, Brian Masterson ’16 led a strong contingent of current and former Big Green runners across the line, completing the eight-kilometer distance in 24:24.51. The men did slightly better than the women’s 10-spot sweep, taking the top 13 collegiate spots in the races. Two former Dartmouth runners and recent graduates, Philip Royer ’13 and Silas Talbot ’15, ran unattached in the men’s race, with respective fourth- and eighth-place finishes in the overall standings.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Masterson said of the meet. “I just wanted to get in a good hard effort and use it to gauge our early season fitness.”

Nat Adams ’17 and Peter Geithner ’16 followed Masterson, claiming second and third with only a second and a half separating them from each other. Patrick Gregory ’18 finished fourth on the team and fifth in the overall standings with a 24:32.09. Julian Heninger ’17 finished fifth in the team scoring in 24:37.24, while Daniel Salas ’17 and Joey Chapin ’16 finished sixth and seventh in the team scoring.

“I told some guys to stick together during the first half of the race,” men’s head coach and director of track and field Barry Harwick ’77 said. “The second half is much more difficult than the first, so I told some of the first-years to hold back during the first half.”

Both the athletes and the coaching staff attributed the early season success to strong preparation over the summer. The upperclassmen traveled to the Dartmouth College Grant in northeastern New Hampshire two weeks ago, where they took advantage of the trails to run and complete two tough preseason workouts. They returned to campus a week ago to rejoin the first-year athletes.

“Preseason training went really well,” Jaworski said. “You could tell that the women on the team did some great offseason work.”

Masterson emphasized that although he dealt with a minor injury during his summer training, he “was able to get in a lot of quality miles in August and build a solid base for the season.”

Looking forward, both teams look to contend for the Ivy League Championship in early November, where the women will seek to defend their Ivy League crown for the third consecutive year. Both teams also hope to qualify for the NCAA National Championships in late November.

“My sophomore season, we qualified for NCAAs as a team and I was one of the seven who ran at nationals,” Masterson said. “My one goal for the season is to get back to nationals. The [Dartmouth Invitational] reinforced my conviction that this team can make it back to NCAAs.”

The teams will return to action in two weeks at the Boston College Invitational. Both will get the chance to assess their fitness against some of the strongest Division I teams.

“It’ll be nice to race against some top teams, including three other Ivy League schools — Brown, Cornell and Harvard [Universities],” Jaworski said. “It’ll be good to wage ourselves against these Division I teams.”

The Boston College Invitational will be on Friday, Sept. 25 at Franklin Park in Boston, with the races set to begin at 3 p.m.