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Women Claim Third, Men Take Fifth in Strong Team Showing at Cross Country Heptagonal Championships

James Leakos was Harvard's top finisher on the men's side (Harvard Athletic Communications).

PRINCETON, N.J. –
A strong team effort saw the Crimson women post their best result in three years as the Harvard cross country teams competed at the Heptagonal Championships Saturday afternoon on the campus of Princeton. The women's squad finished with 93 points, tying Brown for third place at the meet, while the men ended with 131 points in their fifth place result. The women were just two points behind second-place Princeton, who had 91 points on the afternoon.  

The Cornell women yielded the top three finishers in the race to earn the Ivy title while the Princeton men saw four of their five scoring runners place within the top 10 to secure the championship.

"This was a great day for Harvard cross country, especially the women," said director of Harvard cross country/track and field Jason Saretsky. "I am really proud of how everyone competed. Our women keep getting better, week after week, and our men really went for it today which was exciting to see."

The women's team benefitted from a cohesive effort, as all five Harvard scorers placed within the top 32. Senior Sammy Silva provided the biggest spark on either side for Harvard, shattering her best 6-kilometer time and racing to a sixth-place finish with a time of 20:39.8. Silva was less than a second outside of the top-five pace, and just over ten seconds behind race winner Katie Kellner of Cornell. Only 10 places back in the final standings was captain Emily Reese who narrowly missed breaking the 21-minute mark, crossing the line in 21:03.0. Harvard's third scorer was Morgan Kelley, Harvard's top runner at the Paul Short Meet earlier this season, who was one spot and three second behind teammate Reese. Both Reese and Kelley's times were less than 20 seconds off the top-10 pace.

The women didn't wait long for their next finisher, as Viviana Hanley was three seconds back of Kelley in 21:09.8. Alaina Alvarez was the final Harvard scorer across the line, posting a time of 21:39.6, good for 32nd overall in the competition.

Junior James Leakos led the way for the men's squad, who only had a 16-place and 32-second spread between their five scoring runners. Leakos' time of 24:16.6 on the 8-kilometer course was good for 19th overall and just three seconds outside of the top 15. Classmate Maksim Korolev crossed the line in 22nd position, finishing just eight second back of Leakos in 24:24.3. Rookie Tom Purnell has a strong run in his first Heps appearance, riding the heels of Korolev to a 25th-place finish and 24:29.8 time. Kurt Ruegg was the third junior and fourth Harvard scorer across the line in 24:35.3, good for 30th, and freshman Billy Gaudreau ran a time of 24:48.3 in his first Ivy championship meet, good for 35th overall.

The Crimson now sets its sights on the NCAA regionals, which take place Nov. 9 at Hammonasset, Conn.