The Harvard men’s and women’s cross country teams completed their third season under the direction of Jason Saretsky in 2008. The teams continue to improve at the league, regional and national level.
For the fourth time in five years, a Crimson runner competed at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. It was the first time in nine years two members of the Crimson squad advanced to the national stage. Daniel Chenoweth and Claire Richardson represented Harvard at the national championships in November, with Chenoweth earning the best finish by a Crimson runner since 1995.
At the conference meet, runners on both the men’s and women’s side posted the best individual performances at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships this decade. The Crimson women equaled its best finish at the Heptagonal Championships since 1999 and had its best finish at the ECAC Championship since the early 1980s.
On the men’s side, the Crimson finished one place behind last year’s best finish in six years at Heps, but had two runners in the top eight for the first time since 2001. At the regional meet, the Crimson rallied to beat one of the teams that finished ahead of them at the conference championship and finished in the top eight for the fourth year in a row.
Harvard opened the season with a dual meet victory in the H-Y dual race, its second in a row. Chenoweth and Chas Gillespie finished 1-2 to lead the Crimson to a 21-36 victory over the Bulldogs. Six of the top 10 spots went to the Crimson with three freshmen – Ben Enowitz, Dan Stiles and Stephen Couch finishing fifth, seventh and ninth, respectively.
Three weeks later the Crimson split into two squads with one competing at the Pre-Nationals and the other traveling to the UAlbany Invitational. Chenoweth and Gillespie paced the Crimson once again, finishing among the top 100 runners, with personal best times, to lead the Crimson to a 28th-place showing in the Blue race at Pre-Nationals. Sophomore Stephen Chester ran a personal best by more than a minute to finish 26th in the UAlbany Invitational Championships race. The Crimson had three runners in the top 100, helping the team to a 16th-place showing.
After just two official races, the Crimson traveled to Van Cortlandt Park for the first of three straight meets in the Bronx. Two runners finished in the top eight at the Heptagonal Championships to lead the Crimson to a sixth-place showing. Gillespie was the first Crimson runner, taking fifth and securing first-team All-Ivy honors. Chenoweth finished eighth to earn second-team All-Ivy honors. Freshman Brandon Jarrett made some noise in his first race of the season finishing third among Crimson runners and 42nd overall.
At the NCAA Regional meet, Chenoweth finished sixth overall and second among Ivy League runners, helping his team to an eighth-place finish. All five of Harvard’s scorers finished in the top 85 of the 239-person race. Junior co-captain Chas Gillespie was the second Harvard runner, he finished 32nd overall in a time of 32:56.5. Freshman Brandon Jarrett was next, clocking in at 33:44.8 and in 69th place. Junior Stephen Chester and sophomore Ryan Neely rounded out the top-five scoring.
The Crimson was eighth overall and fourth among Ivy League teams at the meet, beating out Brown, who finished ahead of the Crimson at Heps.
Chenoweth advanced to the NCAA Championship where he had an outstanding performance, finishing the 10k course 42nd in a time of 30:14.8. He was 1.1 seconds and two places away from All-America honors. His time was one minute and 15 seconds faster than his 10k performance at the NCAA Northeast Regional and was the best since Ian Carswell ’97 was 17th in 1995.
The Harvard women also began the season on a high note, defeating Yale, 20-36, in the HYP meet. The Crimson also broke up the top seven of the nationally-ranked Princeton team. Claire Richardson, who was the top Crimson finisher in every race she competed in, placed seventh, while classmate Jamie Olson was eighth.
Richardson and Olson claimed the top two spots for Harvard in the white race at Pre-Nationals with top 100 finishes and helped the Crimson to a 21st-place showing. The Crimson raced against eight of the top ranked teams in the nation. Nicole Cochran was the third Crimson across the line and 112th overall in her collegiate debut.
Sophomore Cara Sprague was the top finisher for the Crimson in the championship race at the UAlbany Invitational. She finished 17th overall. Newcomer Alison Lee and sophomore Thea Lee were 34th and 35th respectively, helping Harvard to a ninth-place team finish.
All five of Harvard’s scorers finished in the top 40 at the Heptagonal Championships with four finishing among the top 30. Richardson used a final kick to break up Princeton’s top five and finish fourth overall, earning first-team All-Ivy honors and marking the best individual finish in 13 years. Cochran was 23rd overall, while Meghan Houser, Olson and Stacy Carlson rounded out Harvard’s scoring.
At the NCAA Regional championships, all five of Harvard’s scorers finished in the top 60 of the 247-person race to give the Crimson a seventh-place finish. It is the best team finish by the Crimson women since the regional format began in 1997. Richardson led the way with her seventh-place finish. Cochran, Hilary May, Olson and Kailyn Kuzmak scored for the Crimson. Harvard was the third Ancient Eight team in the standings and the Crimson finished ahead of Brown, who was fourth at the Heptagonal Championships two weeks earlier.
Richardson advanced to the NCAA Championship based on her performance at the regional meet. She finished 144th out of 252 runners. Her time was 14 seconds faster than her 6k qualifying time at the regional meet.
On both the men’s and women’s side, two awards were handed out at the end of the season banquet. Hilary May received the Jerry Kanter Improvement Award, given to the upperclassman that has shown the most improvement. Claire Richardson received the Kate Wiley Women’s Cross Country Award, presented to the female who is considered the most valuable performer, exhibited by her contributions to the success of the team.
For the men’s team, Chas Gillespie won the Jaako Mikkola Award, given to the team member who, through continued and conscientious effort for team success, has shown noteworthy improvement in physical performance, while Daniel Chenoweth received the J.D. “Don” French ’56 Memorial Cross Country Award, given to the team member who best combines the qualities of team inspiration, enthusiasm, improvement and ardent belief in the values of the sport and athletics at Harvard.
Chas Gillespie will serve as captain for the men’s squad again in 2009, while junior Jamie Olson will captain the women’s team.