Distance Medley Relay Team Places Fifth in IC4A Finals

Paul Chandler. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Chandler, Cunetta and Dooney all Tie or Set New Personal Bests 

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The Yale men's track and field team capped off its indoor season in impressive fashion on Sunday at the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) Championships, hosted by Boston University. The Bulldogs scored four points to place 37th among all teams competing at the meet. Sunday's showing was the best finish—both in terms of place and point total—Yale had recorded in the meet since 2009. The University of Connecticut won this year's indoor IC4As with 104 points, and Cornell took second with 57.50 points.

All four of the Bulldogs' points came courtesy of their distance medley relay team of sophomore Dylan Hurley, senior Sam Kirtner, sophomore Matt Nussbaum and senior Michael Pierce. The team registered an impressive time of 9:51.00 and placed fifth. Their finals time was nearly three seconds faster than their time in Saturday's prelims, in which they had the top time overall. Monmouth's relay team placed first in the medley relay with a time of 9:46.80. The Elis' time of 9:51.00 was their fastest distance medley relay time recorded this season, and it could not have come at a better time. 

Prior to Saturday's prelim heat, neither Kirtner nor Nussbaum had competed in the distance medley relay in their entire collegiate careers, and Pierce had not run the event competitively since mid-January. Hurley, meanwhile, was a member of the relay team that completed the race in a speedy 9:54.50 last weekend at Heps, placing fifth, and had competed in the event a few times throughout his collegiate career. The Bulldogs' mix of experience levels clearly did not hurt them in the event, as all four athletes posted solid times to contribute to the fifth-place finish.

The Bulldogs nearly added to their scoring tally in the 3,000-meter run and pole vault. In the 3,000-meter run, freshman Kevin Dooney continued his brilliant debut collegiate season with a ninth-place finish. He was edged out by just .09 seconds by Iona's Otis Ubriaco, who placed eighth. Only the top eight finishers scored points for their respective teams. Despite just missing out on scoring, Dooney (8:15.41) had plenty to be excited about on Sunday, as he placed first in his heat and knocked almost 12 seconds off his previous personal record in the event. Since the beginning of the season, Dooney has knocked nearly 30 seconds off his 3,000-meter time, and his running has clearly done nothing but improved as the season has progressed. 

Junior Paul Chandler—the Elis' star in the pole vault—similarly placed ninth in Sunday's finals, tying his previous personal-best of 15'9" (4.80m). Although seven other athletes recorded vaults of the same height, Chandler placed ahead of all of them by clearing the 15'9" (4.80m) mark on his very first try—a feat none of the seven other athletes accomplished. In fact, of the 25 pole vaulters competing on Sunday, only seven managed to clear that mark on their first attempt. Given that Chandler had cleared the 15'9" (4.80m) mark only once in his entire collegiate career entering Sunday, his clearance of the measurement on his very first attempt was quite an impressive feat.

The only other Bulldogs to compete on Sunday was junior Michael Cunetta, who placed 16th in the 3,000-meter run—a little more than four seconds behind Dooney. Like Dooney, Cunetta's performance on Sunday set a new personal record. He broke the personal-best he set at the HYP meet a few weeks ago by about 13 seconds. 

The Elis ended their indoor season on a positive note on Sunday. Although the IC4As mark the end of the indoor season, the Bulldogs will seek to carry this momentum over to the outdoor season, which will begin at the Tribe Invitational, hosted by William & Mary, on March 23.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity