Yale Season Opener Offers First Glimpse of Track and Field Team

MIchael Pierce (photo by Dan Grossman, Mapleleafphotos.com)
MIchael Pierce (photo by Dan Grossman, Mapleleafphotos.com)

Middle Distance Runners Steal the Show

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale men's track and field team got its first taste of competition of the 2011-2012 season at Saturday's Yale Season Opener at Coxe Cage. The unscored meet featured eight teams, and allowed the Yale athletes a chance to test their legs before the season begins in earnest after winter break. Collectively, the Bulldogs turned in a solid performance, but it was the Yale middle distance men who shone brightest.

Yale displayed its depth and prowess in that area with a series of high scoring finishes in the middle distance events. Junior Michael Pierce got things started by winning the 1000-meter run (2:31.90), and sophomore James Shirvell followed up with a victory in the 800-meter run (1:54.06). Stony Brook's Eric Speakman prevented the Bulldogs from sweeping the middle distance events by edging out Yale junior Timothy Hillas in the mile run. Hillas finished in second place in 4:15.14, and teammate John Cocco finished sixth (4:36.27). The 4x800-meter relay team of freshman Michael Grace, Pierce, junior Christopher Ramsey and Shirvell finished out the day on a high note, coasting to a win by a 14.50 second margin (7:59.67).

The Elis got a typically strong showing from standout junior Mike Levine in the weight throw. Levine took second in that event with a top throw of 16.63m (54'6.75''). Sophomore Stefan Palios was unfortunate to foul out of the weight throw, but made amends with a sixth-place finish in the shot put with a heave of 13.94m (45'9.0'').

Senior captain Matthew Bieszard led the Bulldogs in the sprints, finishing third in the 400-meter dash (49.88) and sixth in the 200-meter dash (22.72). Freshmen William Rowe and Mario Kranjac also represented Yale in the 400-meter dash, beginning their Yale careers with 10th- and 13th-place finishes, respectively. In an auspicious result, Bieszard led a 4x400-meter relay team featuring three freshmen (Rowe, Kranjac, and Dylan Hurley) to victory in the day's final event (3:21.78). Hurley, a sprinter, also ran the 500-meter dash (6th - 1:06.36), where he was joined by middle distance specialists Charlie Jaeger (5th – 1:06.31) and Ramsey (1:08.75).

Freshman Daniel Kemp was Yale's lone competing hurdler. He was seventh in the 60-meter hurdles (8.91). Meanwhile, short sprint ace Daniel Jones, a sophomore, was seventh in the 60-meter dash (7.21). Both also competed in the 200-meter dash, where Jones finished 10th and Kemp came in 27th.

Sophomore Dana Lindberg showcased his versatility by placing 11th in the 200-meter dash (23.17) and fourth in the long jump (6.45m or 21'2''). In the vertical jumps, freshman Kyle Bajtos was fifth in the high jump with a leap of 1.79m (5'10.5''), and sophomore Paul Chandler was second in the pole vault with a mark of 4.20m (13'9.25'').

Yale's distance runners, whose cross country season ended only a few weeks ago, were given a rest. Yale had no entrants in the 5000-meter run, and the 3000-meter run was not held.

The Bulldogs will not compete again until Jan. 14, when they host the Yale Invitational, also at Coxe Cage.

Report by Eian Katz '13, Yale Sports Publicity