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Men’s, Women’s Cross Country Top the Ivies at the Battle in Beantown Races

The Harvard men’s cross country team lines up alongside Yale, one of the four Ivy League foes faced this week at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown meet, in a contest from a couple of years ago.
The Harvard men’s cross country team lines up alongside Yale, one of the four Ivy League foes faced this week at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown meet, in a contest from a couple of years ago. By Courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications
By Brahm Erdmann, Contributing Writer

Slogging out a gloomy Boston day, the Harvard men's and women's cross country teams raced in the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown this Friday, Sept. 24th. Just five days after an impressive performance at HYP, the Crimson delivered again against a tough slate of opponents, including No. 6 nationally ranked Arkansas, as well as familiar foes and Ivy League rivals Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth and Brown.

Both teams placed ahead of their Ivy counterparts, with the men’s average time of 24:42 (96 points) landing them fourth out of 20 teams in their 8k race. The women's team came in fifth out of the 22 running their 5k race, finishing with 153 points along with an average time of 17:52 per runner.

In the early-season hitout, it was the depth of the team that stood out, with 43 and 42 seconds separating the top fives of the women’s and men’s teams respectively. This consistency placed five runners from the women's team and an outstanding seven from the men’s team in the top 50 of their races.

“Our team is a lot deeper than it has historically been...one through seven, one through ten,” said Associate Head Coach Alex Gibby, who called the race a “good late-September performance” for both teams.

On an individual level, 17th-placed Sophomore Isabell Sagar continued to do her work up front for the Women’s team. However, it was talented first-year Maia Ramsden who outkicked her in the last straight, winning the day for the Crimson women in a time of 17:31 (13th overall). Senior co-captain and 2019 All-Ivy First Team selection Anna Juul was a steady presence, finishing with a time of 17:53. Sophomore Eloise Freitag and Senior co-captain Judy Pendergast rounded out the Crimson’s top five, with respective 18:05 (42nd) and 18:14 (49th) performances being just enough to beat Columbia for 5th place.

In the men’s race, sophomore standout Acer Iverson followed up on his second place finish at HYP with a scorching time of 24:20, good for 10th overall. Senior Matt Periera was nipping at his heels, just 15 seconds behind Iverson in 14th place. True freshman Graham Blanks showed his impressive potential once again, staying right with the leading pack through 5k, finishing in 24:51 (21st).

“He cratered a little bit in the last 400-600m,” said Gibby, but this is still early days for Blanks’ career for the Crimson. “He’s a big talent...he’s going to be a really good one for us.”

Finishing one spot ahead of Blanks in 20th position was junior Co-captain David Melville, who ran a strong race in a time of 24:51. Melville concurred with Gibby on the depth of the team, emphasizing the importance 0f this going forward.“If you watch any of the really good teams in the NCAA, they usually have a pack of four, five, six guys all running together,” Melville said.

The co-captain pointed out the mental advantage of staying tight throughout the run.

“Mid-race that really fires you up, keeps you reminded of what and who you're doing it for,” he said.

Both Melville and Gibby stressed the MO of the team in these early stages of the season: Process, process, process. In the approach to last weekend, Gibby highlighted that “we were looking to execute a little better, be a little tactically better in the setup.”

For a team that has it’s targets locked on the championship races at the end of the fall, he says these early season fixtures are all about “developing the habits mentally that we want to execute when the physical preparation catches up.”

The team has a few weeks off to work on that execution before heading to Madison, Wis., for the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational on October 15.

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Track and Cross Country