Nihal Kayali by Jim Hudson
At the beginning of the 2012 cross country season, the Yale women listed some high goals for their season. First, to improve upon the Bulldogs’ fourth-place team standing from 2011 (ideally with the conference crown). Second, to become a strong enough team to have a presence on the national rankings. And third, to qualify as a team to the NCAA National Championships.
Thus far, the team is right on track. The Bulldogs surprised many at the Paul Short and Wisconsin Invitationals with their high-place finishes and besting many other nationally-ranked programs. Going into Heps, Yale is ranked No. 22 in the country and has many members of the running community wondering if they have earned enough leverage to qualify for NCAAs in November.
As for winning the conference title, Yale is the dark horse team to win the conference title over favorite Cornell. Second-year head coach Amy Gosztyla is looking to junior Liana Epstein (Springfield, Va.), senior Nihal Kayali (La Jolla, Calif.), and junior Millie Chapman (Beverly, Mass.) to lead the group to the conference crown as each has been the team’s No. 1 runner at least once this season. All three finished in the top 40 — with Epstein earning All-Ivy honors with a sixth-place finish, in the 2011 Halloween Nor’easter that was Heps.
Frosh Emily Stark (Concord, Mass.) has adjusted quite well to the collegiate level and is in strong contention of being the top freshmen finisher. Seniors Caitlin Hudson (Bronxville, N.Y.) and Elizabeth Marvin (Rhinebeck, N.Y.) have the potential of placing well at Heps. Will the Elis have enough to earn their first conference title since 2001? — Mary Boggs