Cross Country to Compete at Pre-Nationals, Wisconsin and Princeton Invites

Cross Country to Compete at Pre-Nationals, Wisconsin and Princeton Invites

Sophomore Kieran Tuntivate posted his fastest collegiate 8K time at the Paul Short Run two weeks ago. (Gil Talbot)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard will split this weekend and compete at three events, with the women's team competing at the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 14. The men's team is set for the Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind. with select men's team members also competing at the Princeton Invite on Oct. 15.

About the Wisconsin Invitational
The Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational, hosted by the University of Wisconsin, features a 6K women's race located on Thomas Zimmer Championship Cross Country Course. The course, opened in 2009, features an exterior loop of approximately 2,500 meters and an interior loop of 1,000 meters with rolling hills and valleys, including a section of dense woods. The race will be streamed live this year on FloTrack (subscription required). The women's championship 6K race will take place at 12:30 p.m. CT, while the "B" race will take place earlier in the day at 11 a.m. CT. Thirty-one women's teams will compete at the event, including 17 of the top 30 in the latest U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association National Coaches' Poll.

About the Pre-National Championships
The 2016 Pre-National Invitational, hosted by Indiana State, will take place at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course. The 8K course will also serve as the site of the NCAA National Championships on Nov. 19. Located on the site of a reclaimed coal mine, the course features a challenging mix of uphill and downhill sections after a simple straightaway start. The race will be streamed live on FloTrack (subscription required). Sixty-three men's teams will compete at the event, including eight ranked teams. Harvard will compete against other top Division I teams in the Men's Blue 8K race which will begin at 11:35 a.m. ET.

About the Princeton Invite
The Princeton Invitational will take place at West Windsor Fields, host of this year's Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on Oct. 29. It runs across several soccer fields and varies in terrain, rising in elevation midway through the loop. The men's 8K race will feature 24 teams, including Ivy rivals Columbia, Penn, Princeton, and Yale. The race will begin at 9:45 a.m. ET.

The Last Time Out
Junior Elianna Shwayder finished third overall to lead the Harvard women's cross country team to a second place showing at the New England Cross Country Championships last Saturday (Oct. 8). For Harvard, it was the team's second straight top-3 finish coming off a third place showing at the Washington Invitational on Oct. 1.

Competing on a 5K course equal parts on flats and hills just five miles from downtown Boston, Harvard placed three runners in the top 20, including Shwayder, who recorded the best finish of her Harvard cross-country career, and her best collegiate 5K time in 17:46.1. Joining Shwayder in the top-20 were a pair of freshman runners, Eliza Rego (16th) and Brooke Starn (17). Rego recorded her best 5K time, finishing in 18:18.4, while Starn also set a personal mark with a 18:20.2 finish.

The men competed two weeks ago at the Paul Short Run hosted by Lehigh University, finishing 13th overall in the men's gold 8K race. Sophomore Kieran Tuntivate posting his fastest collegiate 8K time in 24:14, finishing in 29th place. Senior Brandon Price also posted his fastest 8K at Harvard with a 24:20 finish, taking 39th overall.

Freshmen Murimi Nyamu (24:40) and Will Battershill (24:51) also broke the 25-minute mark, finishing in 79th and 94th respectively. Junior Gabe Montague (25:44) also scored for Harvard, finishing 202nd.

In The Rankings
Harvard returned at No. 29 in the National Coaches Poll released on Oct. 3 by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). The Crimson women are No. 4 in the USTFCCCA Northeast Region rankings. Harvard is ranked No. 14 in the Saucony Flo50 team rankings, and Courtney Smith is ranked No. 20 in the nation in the Saucony Flo50 individual rankings.

Shwayder, Rego, and Alum Lindsey Scherf Honored
Junior Elianna Shwayder was named Women's Runner of the Week, recording her best career 5K finish, taking third in 17:46.1, to lead the Crimson to a second-place finish at the New England Championship. There were 35 teams and 234 runners in that varsity race.

Freshman Eliza Rego was named Rookie of the Week after her strong showing at the New England Championships. Rego finished 16th overall in 18:18.35, fourth fastest among freshmen in the race. also recognized Lindsey Scherf '08 as its Women's Alum of the Week, as Scherf placed eighth at the USATF 10-mile national championship this past Sunday, finishing in 55:01. She also took fifth place at the national 10K championship on Oct. 10 with a 33:03 finish. (LINK)

A Year Ago
The Harvard women's team finished sixth at the NCAA Regionals, led by Courtney Smith's fifth place showing, helping her qualify for the NCAA Championships. Smith finished 60th in the field of 254 runners, narrowly missing All-America recognition with her time of 20:36.6. The Crimson placed seventh at the 2015 Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, led by Smith's third place finish. The women's team won the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet, the programs' first victory in the event since 1995, as Smith and senior Paige Kouba finished second and third respectively to lead the Crimson.

Scouting Harvard
The women's team enters the 2016 season ranked No. 13 in the Saucony Flo50 XC countdown and No. 25 in the USTFCCCA preseason coaches' poll, the second time in program history the Crimson have been ranked in the coaches' poll. Harvard is led by junior Courtney Smith, who qualified for the NCAA championships last fall. Smith was an indoor All-American during the track season, and qualified for the USATF Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meters after running 32:08.32 at the Stanford Invitational – a top-10 mark in NCAA history. Harvard also returns junior Elianna Shwayder, who was consistently a top-three finisher for the Crimson. On the men's side, the Crimson began the season ranked in the USTFCCCA Northeast regional preseason poll. Harvard senior Brandon Price is Harvard's leading returner. Price was Harvard's top finisher last season at Coast to Coast Battle of Beantown.

At the Helm
Jason Saretsky is in his 11th season as the William W. "Bill" McCurdy Director of Track and Field/Cross Country, and during his tenure the Crimson has landed 29 student-athletes on All-America teams. A five time Women's USTFCCCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year winner, Saretsky has mentored 40 combined NCAA qualifiers at Harvard.

What's Next?
Harvard is off next weekend before returning to action on Oct. 29 at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships hosted by Princeton.