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The Cornell men’s and women’s cross country teams took the first step toward achieving their lofty goals and ambitions after placing first and second, respectively, in their season openers on Friday.
Both teams traveled to Van Cortlandt Park in New York City to compete against host school Columbia, along with Brown and New York University. The men’s team clinched its first-place victory with its top five runners finishing close together in the top 10 — an encouraging sign for a team which has emphasized pack running this year.
“We wanted to use the meet to practice getting out together and just sticking together throughout the race,” said senior tri-captain Chase Silverman. “I thought we executed pretty well and we were able to stick together and just help each other.”
Silverman used his closing speed in the last 800 meters to finish second overall. Sophomore Connor Horn, senior Sam Chauvin, junior Tyler Fischer and senior Josh Dyrland finished at fourth, sixth, eighth, and 10th, respectively, with only 22 seconds separating the five runners.
“In the past 10 years or so, we’ve usually had one guy out in front of the others,” Silverman said. “This year, we have a lot of strong guys who are pretty similar, and this meet showed that as long as we stick together on narrow courses, it’ll make it easier on all of us.”
The women’s team ran the same course later in the day, placing second behind Columbia. Senior tri-captain Jackie Katzman placed second in a field of 50, with fellow senior tri-captain Erin McLaughlin, junior Briar Brumley and senior tri-captain Shannon Hugard following close behind at seventh, eighth, and 11th respectively.
“We went into the meet really to familiarize ourselves with the really technical course which we aren’t really used to,” Katzman said. “I thought we executed pretty well, but the team definitely left hungry for more.”
As expected from most first races, the Red also suffered from some pacing issues after a long offseason.
“Especially in the first race, it’s tricky to transition from feeling like you’re racing to feeling like you’re running very hard,” Katzman said. “I think as our workouts progresses, we’ll start switching gears into race-mode, not really getting locked into a certain pace or energy system.”
While the Red’s top four finishers were upperclassmen, the next four finishers were comprised of entirely freshmen: Gabrielle Orie at 12th, Leya Salis at 16th, Raisa Kochmaruk at 17th and Izzie Dobson at 24th.
“We knew the incoming class would be a factor, but we had no idea they would have this big of an impact right away,” Katzman said. “Entering into the season, we emphasize that there shouldn’t be a pecking order, and this race just showed that the freshmen can finish up there with the upperclassmen.”
Moving forward, the Red will remember its experience at Van Cortlandt Park, which will play host to the Ivy League Heptagonal Championship at the end of the season.
“Only two or three of our returners have ever run this course, so we wanted to make sure to get out early to get used to it,” Silverman said. “It was good to have the experience for later in the season [and] to know that we would be fine as long as we ran in a pack.”
“The course is really different from a lot of other courses because it’s so technical with the backhills,” Katzman added. “The experience of running it on Friday will definitely be helpful for Heps.”
Both teams will see a short break before returning to action. The men’s team will get back to competition on Friday, Sept. 29, at the Paul Short Run, while the women’s team will return a week earlier on Friday, Sept. 22 at Boston College.