On the cross country course, Liz Costello ’10 is one of Princeton’s most vocal runners. Some of her words are strategic — keeping tabs on the team’s pace — but the rest is encouraging chatter, usually just after the start of a race. “It’s a reminder to the other girls, to make sure nobody’s getting psyched out,” she said. “We’re all right here, we have our group.”

At the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships Oct. 26, the Princeton women had their group at the end of the race, too. Costello crossed the finish line first, in 17:14.4 (the third-fastest Heps time in Princeton women’s history). Christy Johnson ’10 was nine seconds behind in second place, and the next three Tigers — Megan Brandeland ’09, Jolee Vanleuven ’09, and Ashley Higginson ’11 — finished in the race’s top nine. Four other Princeton runners placed in the top 25 as the women dominated the field for their second straight Ivy championship.

Not far from the finish, the Princeton men watched the steady procession of black tank tops and prepared for their own race. After posting a somewhat surprising win last year, the Tiger men aimed to “win with an exclamation point” this fall, according to Michael Maag ’09.

Maag led the charge, becoming the first Tiger to win the Heps individual men’s title since 1999, and teammates Ben Sitler ’10 (third place) and Dave Nightingale ’08 (sixth) were close behind. Frank Tinney ’08 and James O’Toole ’08 rounded out Princeton’s five scoring runners, finishing 11th and 17th, respectively. The first-place Tigers finished 29 points ahead of second-place Cornell in the team standings.

The strong performances at Heps were just the latest in a remarkable season, particularly for the Princeton women, who won their race at the prestigious Pre-Nationals Invitational at Indiana State University in mid-October and earned a No. 4 ranking in the national coaches’ poll. “I think we’ve done a good job of being level-headed,” Costello said, “knowing there’s a lot left to accomplish.”