The West Windsor Fields were far from their top condition for the Princeton Inter-Regional Meet on Saturday — it poured for the entirety of the day before, and strong gusts prevailed throughout the day — but the Princeton men’s cross country team wasn’t concerned.
“I think a lot of us ran personal bests on Saturday despite a wet course and all the wind,” said Brett Kelly ‘16, co-captain of the Tiger men’s squad. “The race really built our confidence.”
The team finished second at the meet out of 11 teams, placing behind No. 19 Indiana and ahead of ranked squads from Providence, UNC, and Virginia Tech. Such a strong performance against top teams means the Tigers themselves likely will be nationally ranked soon.
Steven Sum ’19 crossed the finish line of the 8,000-meter course in 24:12.4 (6th overall), followed by Michael Sublette ’16 (24:18.8, 8th), Noah Kauppila ’18 (24:17.5, 11th), Sam Berger ’16 (24:25.4, 21st), and Jeremy Spiezio ’19 (24:26.5, 24th).
“We competed really well on Saturday,” said head coach Jason Vigilante, noting the win was part of an exciting start to the season — on Sept. 11, the Tigers defeated Harvard and Yale for a first-place finish in the HYP meet at Cambridge.
The West Windsor race showcased the talent of freshman runners Sum and Spiezio, who have been contributing throughout the season. “Jeremy was our fourth guy at HYP and Steven was our fifth,” Vigilante said. “I have to be very careful with them and do everything I can to make sure we don’t push them too hard as we go through.”
Kelly also noted the contributions of the team’s underclassmen. “There are a lot of young guys, so it’s a lot less of an established varsity group and everyone’s working really hard to contribute,” Kelly said, adding that the freshman runners are playing an important part in giving the team a deep amount of talent to pull from. “We’ve had different guys stepping up at each meet, so even if one guy has a bad day, someone else is stepping up right into his spot.”
Major next stops include the Wisconsin Invitational Oct. 16, the Ivy League Heptagonals Oct. 31, and if all goes well, a trip to the NCAA meet, an accomplishment that eluded the Tigers last year (despite winning the Ivy title). At their current pace, the Tigers seem on track.
The women’s cross country team, currently ranked 28th nationally, also gave a strong performance Saturday, finishing first out of 12 teams (three of which were ranked). Princeton had three runners finish in the top 10 — Lizzie Bird ’17 (3rd), Emily de la Bruyere ’16 (6th), and Kathryn Fluehr ’16 (7th).
Football improved to 3-0 with a 10-5 rain-soaked win over Columbia Friday night. The Tigers, now 1-0 in Ivy play, finish their nonconference slate against Colgate at Princeton Stadium Oct. 10.