UPDATE ON SATURDAY: Yesterday FloTrack did a solid job of forecasting the at-large picks. So the women’s teams from Harvard, Penn and Yale and the Dartmouth men’s team will be officially competing at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 19. There will also be five Heps’ men and one Heps’ woman — Columbia’s Henna Rustami — in the field. The guys are James Randon (Yale), Nick Tuck (Penn), Conor Lundy (Princeton), Brian Zabilski (Columbia) and Kenny Vasbinder (Columbia).
The Harvard women’s team earned its first automatic berth to the NCAA Cross Country Championships while two other Ivy women’s squads — Yale and Penn — are in strong position to join the Crimson in the field with at-large bids.
No Ivy men’s team earned an automatic position, but Dartmouth is in strong position to take an at-large spot for the Championships, which will take place in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 19. The teams on the at-large bubble will learn their fate when the NCAA releases the full field on Saturday afternoon.
For Harvard, Friday was a continuation of an amazing season. After dominating at Heps two weeks ago for its first title since 1985, the Crimson finished second behind pre-season national No. 1 Providence. Heps’ individual champion Courtney Smith was second overall in 20:13.9, five seconds behind New Hampshire junior Elinor Purrier.
With that showing, Harvard becomes the first Heps women’s team — other than Columbia — to qualify automatically out of the Northeast in at least 14 years. Behind Smith, freshman Judy Pendergast was the next Crimson finisher, taking sixth in 20:38.0.
Yale was third as a team behind Harvard and the Bulldogs are in a self-reported “very good position” to receive one of the 13 at-large berths. Senior Frances Schmiede was the star of the day for Yale as she was the 15th runner across the line. Sophomore Andrea Masterson was next in 25th place, but right behind, separated by six places and 10 seconds, were the next three Elis.
“Today was an incredibly gutsy full team performance. We came together as a group once again and ran a really tight pack. I’m really proud of the women,” said Coach Amy Gosztyla as her team had its best result at the Regionals in 12 years.
Penn was on a different course — at State College, Pa., for the Mid-Atlantic Regional — but may have punched an NCAA ticket as well. The Quakers — who were third overall behind traditional powers Penn State and Villanova — were within six points of knocking off the crosstown Wildcats.
It was the first time Penn finished in the top five at regionals for at least 14 years as senior Ashley Montgomery again led the way, taking sixth in 20:32. Cleo and Clarissa Whiting were 10th and 20th for the Red and Blue.
Back at Van Cortlandt, Columbia had one runner secure an individual berth as senior Henna Rustami, who qualified with eighth-place finish.
For the men, Dartmouth took third behind national powers Syracuse and Iona at the Northeast Regional. That showing — which may have earned the Big Green the lone team invitation among the men — was paced by senior Daniel Salas, who was 12th in 30:48.
“Our seniors really came through for us today,” said Coach Barry Harwick. “This was our best race of the season as a team. These guys really deserve a trip to the NCAAs. I’m very optimistic but I’ll be nervous until (the official announcement).”
Two HepsNation athletes qualified individually out of the Northeast Region. Yale senior James Randon was a strong fifth place finisher, the first non-auto runner to cross the line. Columbia sophomore Brian Zabilski picked up the final individual qualifying spot in the men’s race, taking 11th just ahead of Salas.
Up in State College in the men’s Mid-Atlantic race, Georgetown and Navy took the automatic spots, followed by Princeton and Penn. But the national prognosticators don’t think either squad will grab an at-large berth.
Regardless, Princeton freshman Conor Lundy will indeed be in the field with a third-place finish, 15 seconds behind champion Patrick Tiernan of Villanova. “I’m really proud of how Conor competed today and I couldn’t be happier for him that he will be running at the NCAA Championships,” said Coach Jason Vigilante. “He’s the first Tiger to finish in the top three at Regionals since 2012, and the only freshmen to ever do so.”
Penn senior Nick Tuck will be the first one waiting for a final slot as he was sixth overall, but with only one member of an auto qualifier before him.