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Men’s cross country team places 15th at first big meet of the season

Two men wearing orange jerseys run alongside each other.
Leading the Tigers was senior Connor Nisbet, with a time of 24:01, followed closely behind by junior Nicholas Bendtsen in 24:02.
Photo Courtesy of

Blanketed by a steady rain from the outer bands of Tropical Storm Ophelia, the No. 25 men’s cross country team raced through their first big meet of the season at the UVA Invitational in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday in a preview of the NCAA Championship course in November.

Hosted by the University of Virginia, the Tigers placed 15th out of 23 teams in the 8000-meter men’s race. The No. 1 placer nationwide, Northern Arizona, took the top place with 71 points, and rounding out the podium were No. 3 BYU (101 points) and No. 6 UNC (157 points). 


Trailing 14th place University of Michigan by just 9 points, the Tigers eventually finished roughly in line with their national ranking. Even though four schools ranked below Princeton finished above the 25th-ranked Tigers, Princeton outplaced No. 17 Washington. 

“We had a decent day today against some of the best teams in the country, as well as our region,” Head Coach Jason Vigilante wrote to The Daily Princetonian.

Although the team eventually finished 15th, the Tigers cruised into the top ten early, running as high as fifth place after 1000 meters and in eighth at the halfway mark. However, by the 5k mark, Princeton had moved to 15th place and then stayed relatively consistent until the finish.

Leading the Tigers was senior Connor Nisbet, with a time of 24:01, followed closely behind by junior Nicholas Bendtsen in 24:02. Rounding out the top five were senior Anthony Monte, junior Daniel O’Brien, and sophomore Myles Hogan, in 24:13, 24:15, and 24:22 respectively. The top five runners contributed to Princeton’s overall score of 353 points, an aggregate of their top five places. 

This was Princeton’s first major meet of the season, after taking first out of four at the New Jersey Jam and a distant third at the HYP Meet to Yale and Harvard, which placed respectively. The UVA Invitational was stacked with talent, with 14 of the 23 schools present ranked in the latest Coaches’ Poll Top 30.

“The competition allowed the team to understand the level we are at …and what work needs to be done to be where we want to be in November,” said senior Matthew Farrell, who placed 109th overall and sixth on the team.


With Virginia hosting the national championship race in November, Saturday’s race was a valuable opportunity to evaluate the course and competition. Although the rain and wind were less than ideal, lessons learned from the adverse weather will carry throughout the season. 

“Cross country will run in any conditions,” Farrell told  the ‘Prince.’ “Rain, snow, sleet, hail… it could be snowing at nationals, so it’s good to go into the race just knowing that you’re gonna give your all no matter what.”

Coach Vigilante echoed Farrell in valuing the experience of running at UVA, given its location as the host of the most important race of the year.

“We were happy to come away with a good look at the course we will race at the NCAA championship this November,” Vigilante said. “I’m excited for our team, and we will continue building towards the championship season with a lot of positive energy.”

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This year has the potential to be a special one for the Tigers, with sixteen seniors aiming to leave their mark through a strong season. For Farrell and the rest of the team, the real work lies ahead with greater competition to come.

“This is what we’ve been thinking about, dreaming about, for three years,” Farrell said. 

The journey continues next week, as the Tigers head to Lehigh for the Paul Short Invitational. 

Max Hines is a contributor to the Sports section of the ‘Prince.’ Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]