Starting With 'The' Rivalry
In the college cross country world, very little that happens in September has any meaning come championship time. But that is not to say that what happens in September is not meaningful.
Saturday afternoon's Harvard-Yale matchup in Boston's Franklin Park will be proof of that. The Crimson and the Bulldogs have been heated rivals since 1853, when the two schools got together for a rowing contest. That was the first intercollegiate sporting event in U.S. history.
The schools didn't face one another for an off-track footrace until 1922 and for much of the cross country history, the team from Princeton was also involved, before leaving it to just Harvard and Yale in 1998.
"We had a lot of guys do some great work over the summer, and I cannot wait to see how we stack up with our Ivy rival," said Yale men's coach Paul Harkins. "This is just the beginning, so it will give a great benchmark for what we need to work on as we progress into the season."
If the regional rankings produced by the U.S. coaches are correct, the men's race will be up for grabs while the Harvard women should have an advantage over the New Haveners. Yale's women were ranked in the nation's top 25 before a late-season drop, while the Crimson advanced to the NCAA Championships for the first time in decades.
"The whole Ivy league is very strong, and this is really exciting," said Yale women's coach Amy Gosztyla. "Cornell is the returning favorite this year, and Princeton and Harvard are nationally ranked … We’ve set realistic and appropriate goals and expectations … [and] are definitely in the mix with those schools."
Gosztyla's team definitely has a New York flavor. Among those on the roster are two runners — senior Wendy DeWolf and sophomore Anna-Sophie Harling — from the City's Brearley School. A new face on the squad will be Meredith Rizzo, a freshman from local powerhouse Bronxville High.
The Harvard men also have local interests at heart as sophomore Konrad Surkont and freshman Jack Stevenson are both graduates of Manhattan's Stuyvesant High.
Things get started Saturday in Boston at 1 pm. The 2013 Ivy League Heptagonal Championship will take place on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Princeton’s West Windsor Fields.
On the men's side in the Ivy League, Princeton holds the pre-season No. 10 ranking while Columbia checks in at No 18. For the women, Cornell is No. 10 and Princeton is No. 28. Harvard is receiving votes in both USTFCCCA polls.