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Ancient Eight Converge at Princeton in Search of 2011 Heps Men's Cross Country Championship Glory

Ancient Eight Converge at Princeton in Search of 2011 Heps Men's Cross Country Championship Glory

Cross Country Championships Central

PRINCETON, N.J. -- There is no shortage of storylines heading into the 2011 Ivy League Heptagonal Cross Country Championships. On the men's side, the meet will be contested away from Van Cortlandt Park in The Bronx, N.Y. for just the third time since 1939 – the 1947 meet also took place at Princeton and the 1979 race was contested at Lehigh.

In the 11 Ivy League Heptagonal Cross Country Championships since 2000, four different programs have claimed Ivy titles led by Dartmouth and Princeton, who have each won four championships in that span. Brown won in 2003, while Columbia won titles in 2004 and 2009 to also enter into the mix of recent champions.

The Tigers enter 2011 as the defending champion and, buoyed by strong showings at the Notre Dame and Wisconsin Invitationals, carry a national top-10 ranking into the race as well. Narrowing recent history down, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Princeton have comprised the top-four team finishes at two of the past three championships. Penn broke that stranglehold by finishing fourth in 2010.

While 2010 saw each of the previous championships' top-six individual runners return, the 2011 event could see some new faces post top-10 finishes, as only four of last season's top 10 are in the 2011 field. But at the top of that list of returnees is 2010 champion Donn Cabral of Princeton. The current senior won last season's race in 24:03.8 and will be looking to become the first repeat champion since Dartmouth's Ben True in 2005-06 and just the sixth student-athlete all-time to win multiple Ivy League Cross Country Championships (since 1956).

One of Cabral's main competitors in 2011 will be Dartmouth senior Ethan Shaw, who finished third last season (24:23.7). After finishing sixth as a freshman, third as a sophomore and fifth as a junior, Princeton senior Brian Leung will be looking to make the most of his final shot at the Ivy League Championship as well.

Team-by-team season recaps:

Brown Bears
Ranked fifth in the Northeast … placed second at the Iona Meet of Champions where senior Dan Lowry took fifth and senior Matt Duffy placed sixth … took seventh at the Paul Short Invitational and 15th at New England Championships … senior Ethan Hickey won the individual title and the team took the first five individual spots as Brown placed first at the Rothenberg Invitational.

Columbia Lions
Ranked 28th in the nation and third in the Northeast … topped Saint Michael and Vermont at Vermont Invite with freshman Ben Eversole capturing the individual title … finished fifth in the Iona Meet of Champions … placed third at the Paul Short Run and 18th at the Wisconsin Invitational … won the 2011 Metropolitan Championships over the second-place team by 39 points paced by sophomore Byron Jones, who placed second.

Cornell Big Red
Ranked seventh in the Northeast … three runners placed in the top-10 as the Big Red swept Army and Binghamton … Max Groves placed third and Gabriel Heck took sixth at the Colgate Invitational … junior Brett Kelly placed 30th overall and team took 12th at the Paul Short Invitational … captured first-place at Princeton Invitational as Groves took fourth and Kelly finished in ninth.

Dartmouth Big Green
Ranked sixth in Northeast … team took the top five individual spots to win Dartmouth Invitational with senior Ethan Shaw claiming first-place … Big Green placed eighth at Paul Short Invitational as Shaw finished eighth individually … sophomore Henry Sterling took 10th at the New England Championships as team finished in second-place … team took 10th at Pre-Nationals and fifth in the Mayor's Cup.

Harvard Crimson
Ranked ninth in the Northeast … successfully topped Yale in their annual showdown with sophomore James Leakos leading all runners with a time of 24:21 … took ninth in the Paul Short Invitational, finishing ahead of ranked opponents Princeton and Virginia … Leakos placed fifth to lead the Crimson … sophomore Aaron Watanabe placed 13th in the Wisconsin Invitational.

Penn Quakers
Ranked 12th in Mid-Atlantic … senior James Finucane placed 17th and fellow classmate Ryan Cunningham took 21st to lead team to a fourth-place finish at the Fordham Follies and Fiasco Invitational … team finished seventh in the Iona Meet of Champions … junior Mike Kiley took 29th at the Penn State National Invitational as team finished seventh.

Princeton Tigers
Defending Ivy League champion … ranked ninth in the nation and first in the Mid-Atlantic … first time since 1998 the team is ranked top-10 in the country … placed first at the Fordham Invitational where senior Donn Cabral finished first overall … took third at the Notre Dame Invitational as Cabral finished one second behind the first-place runner … team finished fourth in the Wisconsin Invitational.

Yale Bulldogs
Ranked 10th in the Northeast … team took third at the Fordham Follies and Fiasco Invitational … senior Sam Lynch placed ninth overall … Lynch took third and senior Conor Dooney finished fourth against Harvard … team placed 19th in the Paul Short Invitational … sophomore Ryan Laemel took 16th in the New England Championships to lead squad to a 17th-place finish.