This weekend at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships in Van Cortlandt, NY the women’s cross country team, ranked No. 25 in the nation, their title as Ivy League champions for the second year in a row and the men’s team finished second by fall. short to Princeton by three points. Two top-ten finishes and five top-eighteen finishes, along with junior Maia Ramsden’s individual title, gave the Crimson women the scoring depth needed to win. Acer Iverson and Graham Banks led the men’s team with exceptional performances, becoming Ivy League Champions and runners-up respectively.
In the 6k, Harvard’s first five finishers all placed within the top 18 spots, leaving the squad to finish with 54 points. Sophomores Ellaney Matarese and Isabelle Goldstein placed 17th and 18th with times of 21:42.6 and 21:43 respectively, while first-year Penelope Salmon placed 12th with a time of 21:32. Senior Maya Rayle placed sixth with a time of 21:11.7, while Ramsden finished in 20:42.4 to become the Ivy League Champion.
The women’s team was much younger this year than last year after losing some seniors, and the team changed their mindset accordingly.
“The seniors really knew how to set big goals, and how to communicate the importance [means] to win a championship,” Ramsden said. “This year, we’ve had to work ourselves out a bit more, because we’re all a lot younger. And so I think the difficulty we faced during the season was how to create that attitude with the new team and the new environment.”
In addition to Ramsden and other great men stepping up to fill the roles of retired veterans, they have the advantage of being one of the few programs where the same coaching staff works for the men’s and women’s teams.
“I think [the coaching staff] he is a huge asset to our team,” said Ramsden. “Our coach does a really good job of making sure we peak at the right time and preparing us mentally and physically for the race.”
These results speak for themselves, as for the first time since 1969, Harvard runners finished 1-2 in the Ivy League men’s championship. For the Crimson men, the top five athletes finished in the top fifteen. Iverson was at the top of the pack, finishing first in the 8k with a 23:59.3, followed closely by Blanks, who finished in 24:04.1. Iverson is the 13th Harvard running back to win the Ivy League in its 80-year history and is no stranger to leading the Ivy League; in the 2021-22 season, he won the 3k and 5 at the same meet and won the 5k and 10k at the Ivy League Outdoor Track and Field Championships. David Melville and Vivien Henz came in eleventh and twelfth respectively with 24:32.9 and 24:33.4 respectively, while Ben Rosa rounded out the Crimson’s 5th best finish in 15th place with 24.36.9.
The Crimson entered the race with a different tactic this year; Although they tried to take the lead in the race fast and early, they chose to take a more relaxed approach this year, which turned out to be better.
“We’ve tried to set the pace for ourselves, take control of the race from the start,” Iverson said. “And we noticed that wasn’t quite working out. We were giving free rides to other teams through the race, and they were kind of benefiting from our work there. So this year, we just stayed calm, calm, and very patient. Let’s take Princeton and Columbia [the] lead for most of the race. And then just about four miles, Graham and I separated, and as soon as we got to the front, they didn’t let him in.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams are looking forward to the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships in two weeks.
“The regionals will be on the same course as the championships,” Reyles said. “So I think it’s a useful thing to have that experience of going through the course.”
“We’re in a good position going into regionals this year, where most of the field is going to be watching us, instead of watching the two best teams in the field,” Iverson said. “We have to dictate how we want the race to play out, and it’s a nice position to be in. We can go fast with it, but it’s up to us.”
The Crimson will compete in the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships on Nov. 11 and the NCAA National Championships on Nov. 19 to conclude the season.