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Harvard Runners Look for Top Three Finishes at Heptagonal Championships

Photo of men's team huddle courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications.

Meet Information

Storyline
The men’s and women’s cross country teams travel to Van Cortlandt Park in New York City for the 2009 Heptagonal Cross Country Championships Friday.

The women will be up first, with their 5,000-meter race starting at 11:15 a.m., while the men's 5-mile race is slated to begin an hour later at 12:15 p.m. The awards ceremony is scheduled to take place at 1:00 pm.

Heps History
Friday’s race will be the 79th Heptagonal Championship on the men’s side and 33rd for the women. Sixty-one of the last 62 championships have been held at Van Cortlandt Park.

Men’s Preview
Harvard returns four of its five scorers from last year’s sixth-place finish and is the only team to return two Heps top-10 finishers from last year in senior Chas Gillespie and junior Daniel Chenoweth. Gillespie will make his 2009 debut at Van Cortlandt Park, while Chenoweth has seen success early on, winning the annual dual meet with Yale by 24 seconds in 24:20, a personal best at Franklin Park and finishing eighth with a personal-best 8K time of 24:01.8 in the blue race at NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind. Freshmen Jeremy Gilmour and Sean Pohorence and junior Ryan Neely have been among the Crimson top five in two meets this fall.

Women’s Preview
The Crimson is the only team, male or female, to return all five Heps scorers from a season ago. Last year, the Crimson finished fifth to match its 2007 finish, which was its best showing since 1999. Harvard is coming off a 12th-place finish at the Pre-Nationals Invitational where three runners finished in the top 50. Junior Claire Richardson, who finished fourth in this race last fall, led the Crimson with a personal best and 31st place finish. Richardson also won the Harvard-Yale dual meet last month. Sophomore Kailyn Kuzmuk was 33rd at Pre-Nationals and freshman Sammy Silva, who won the Iona Meet of Champions last month, was 49th overall in Terre Haute, Ind. Sophomores Nicole Cochran and Jeanne Macke and juniors Jamie Olson and Eliza Ives have been among the Crimson’s top scorers this fall.

In the National Spotlight
The Harvard women received votes in last week’s U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association top 30 poll. It’s the first time since Oct. 30, 1995 the Crimson has picked up votes in the poll.

Regional Rankings
The conference championships will be no easy battle as all eight men’s programs and seven women’s programs are ranked in the top 12 of their respective regions. Despite only competing twice thus far, both the Harvard men’s and women’s squads rank among the top eight in the Northeast Region. The women are third and the men are eighth in the latest USTFCCCA rankings. On the men’s side, Columbia is fourth, Dartmouth is fifth, Cornell is sixth, Brown is seventh and Yale is 11th in the Northeast, while Princeton is third and Penn is 10th in the Mid-Atlantic rankings. For the women, Cornell at fourth, Brown is seventh, Columbia is eighth and Dartmouth is 10th, while Princeton is third and Penn is eighth in the Mid-Atlantic rankings.

On the Horizon
Harvard stays close to home for the NCAA Northeast Regional Nov. 14. The NCAA Championship qualifying meet will be held at Franklin Park in Boston. The men’s race will begin at 2:30 p.m. with the women’s starting at 3:30 p.m.