If we learned anything about the local college cross country scene this weekend, it might just be that the Ivy League is going to be really good in 2012.
Starting right here in New York City, the aptly-named Fordham Fiasco became a swampy Van Cortlandt Park mess on Saturday as heavy rains and high winds seemed to affect all but Yale, which dominated both the men's and women's races.
For the women, Bulldog junior Melissa Chapman (18:19.32) led a 1-2-3-4 finish over five kilometers with senior teammate Elizabeth Marvin the lone runner in striking distance, finishing five seconds back.
Like the women, the Yale men were an easy winner over Division I foes Fordham, Rider, Rutgers, Manhattan and St. Peter’s as sophomore Matt Nussbaum was the top finisher in 26:10.53 while senior Kevin Lunn was two seconds back on the five-mile trek. Yale’s 18 points was far removed from the host’s second-place 64. Fordham's top runner was senior Nick Synan, who was 24 seconds off the winner's pace.
Meanwhile at Penn State's Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational, Jason Vigilante’s Princeton coaching debut proved highly successful as his nationally-ranked Tigers won by a wide margin over No. 14 Georgetown, 25-57. Junior Alejandro Arroyo Yamin was the winner, completing the 5.2-mile course in 26:00. Teammates Eddie Owens (26:18, third), Chris Bendtsen (26:24, fourth) and Tyler Udland (26:25, fifth) were close behind. Owens prepped at Packer Collegiate in Brooklyn.
The No. 15 Princeton women weren't quite as successful as the men, finishing second to unranked Penn State, 25-52. Sophomore Emily de la Bruyere was the first Orange & Black finisher in 21:29, good for fifth on the 6k course.
The most dominating individual performance came at the Dartmouth Invitational, where Big Green junior Abbey D’Agostino just ran away from two of the nation’s top-10 programs — defending national champion Georgetown and No. 9 Syracuse. Despite the level of competition, D’Agostino finished the newly-designed 6k course at Hanover Country Club in 20:48.0, 35 seconds clear of the field. UConn's Lauren Sara was the distant second. As a team, Dartmouth lost to Georgetown, but knocked off Syracuse, which had to please Big Green freshman Christie Rutledge, the oft-injured star at habitual national champion Fayetteville Manlius. She was eighth in the strong field.
Elsewhere of regional interest, Columbia sophomore Waverly Neer — who shut her rookie season down early — was back in form, winning the Vermont Invitational by covering 5k in 17:41.1, more than seven seconds ahead of the No. 2 finisher, teammate Erin Gillingham. Meanwhile Coach Willy Wood's men laid waste the field with the top 13 finishers led by Leighton Spencer, who opened his senior season with the victory, finishing the 8k run in 24:50.2. It was a blanket finish for the top five as Mark Feigen, Jake Sienko, Byron Jones and Mike Murphy all crossed the line less than a second behind Spencer.
Iona left its stars at home, taking a 'B' team to the Marist Invitational, so nothing of significance there, but some familiar local names had nice season debuts.
Remember New Jersey’s Briana Jackucewicz, who was a headliner as a youngster? She has been inactive at Harvard, struggling with injuries for three years. But on Saturday she returned for the Nassaney Invitational in Smithfield, R.I., and won the race, completing 5k in 18:00.1.
Meanwhile Penn ushered in the Steve Dolan era on Friday night against Atlantic 10 favorite La Salle at Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Park. Dolan had built the Princeton distance squad into giant killers as of late. Now he is Thomas Awad, who just graduated from Chaminade here in New York. Awad was Penn's first finisher against La Salle.
Out at Golden Gate Park in the Bay Area, former New York standout and current Stanford Cardinal Aisling Cuffe was the first finisher at the the USF Invitational, clocking 17:08 for 6k.