Not only is HepsTrack expecting a tight race for the team championship, but also for a spot on the podium.
The #21 Harvard and Dartmouth men have raced head-to-head twice, but yielded different results each time. At the Paul Short Invitational, Harvard senior James Leakos (Saskatoon, Sask.) won the individual title in the Gold Race. Dartmouth had two runners place in the top 10, with Will Geoghegan (Brunswick, Maine) finishing in 3rd and John Bleday (Westwood, Mass.) in 7th. The Dartmouth men finished 2nd in the Gold team race while Harvard finished in 4th. Two weeks later, Dartmouth and Harvard raced against each other again at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. At that event, Harvard crossed three runners (senior Maksim Korolev, Leakos, and sophomore Tom Purnell) before Dartmouth got their first runner (Bleday) across the line. Harvard ended up 13th as a team while Dartmouth finished 21st in the 36-team race.
Heps XC, of course, will be a different story.
Harvard has one last chance of a 1-2 Heps XC finish with Leakos and Korolev (Harrisonville, Mo.), as their performances can be unpredictable between regular and championship racing. Purnell (Gloucestershire, U.K.) is a reliable 3rd runner for the Crimson, but 4th and 5th runners need to keep up with Purnell in order to secure a higher team finish, as the Crimson spread has exceeded a minute in most races this year. Sophomore Kurt Ruegg (Yountville, Calif.), sophomore Chris Allen (Norfolk, Mass.), junior Lukas Gemar (Moorhead, Minn.), and junior Will Geiken (Los Gatos, Calif) have Heps XC experience that can help the team keep in the top 4 of the conference should Leakos or Korolev falter again this year.
Dartmouth might not have the strong front running as Harvard, but their runner consistency has help them stay among the top half of the conference for the last few years. Geoghegan finished 6th last year at Heps XC, but will likely place higher this year. Bleday (who missed last year due to injury), Silas Talbot (Anchorage, Alaska), Henry Sterling (South Freeport, Maine), and Steve Mangan (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.) need to make sure they finish close to each other to not only stay ahead of Harvard, but to perhaps make it higher on the podium than just 3rd place.