February 12, 2014

Harvard and Princeton Head to Coxe Cage

Sprinters Could Prove Key at Annual Rivalry Meet

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The fourth meet the Yale men's track and field team hosts this season will be the most important, as Harvard and Princeton prepare to visit Coxe Cage for the annual Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet on Saturday. The meet not only provides the Bulldogs with the opportunity to take on their greatest rivals, but also marks the end of the indoor regular season. After Saturday's showdown with the Crimson and the Tigers, the Elis will have two weeks of rest before their schedule heats up with two postseason meets: the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships (Heps) and IC4A Championships.

Saturday's test will likely be Yale's toughest of the season. Princeton has placed first at indoor Heps three of the past four years, and Princeton and Harvard finished second and third, respectively, at indoor Heps last season. But given the recent string of strong performances by many of the Bulldogs' best athletes, the team appears to be more than up for the challenge. Although Yale's entry lists for this weekend have not yet been finalized, all members of the team should be competing in their main events.

One area in which the Elis will hope to score points this weekend will be the sprints. Due in large part to the emergence of star freshman Marc-Andre Alexandre, the team has excelled in the sprint events this season. Alexandre alone has recorded both the fastest 400-meter time and second-fastest 200-meter time in the Ivy League this season. In fact, Alexandre's top 400-meter mark is almost one whole second faster than the second-fastest Ivy League time this season, which belongs to Princeton's top long sprinter, senior Tom Hopkins.

Seniors Daniel Jones and Dana Lindberg have been the Bulldogs' two other top short sprinters this season, competing regularly in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes. Lindberg will be an especially interesting athlete to watch on Saturday, as he is coming off a 60-meter race at last weekend's Giegengack Invitational in which he set a personal record. Senior Nnamdi Udeh has also been a frequent fixture in the 200-meter dash this season, recording three top-10 finishes.

Several Bulldogs have also contributed in the long sprints—the 400-meter and 500-meter dashes—this season, including Alexandre, Udeh, freshman Chandler Crusan, junior Dylan Hurley, sophomore John Keisling, junior Mario Kranjac and junior William Rowe.

Yale will also enter Saturday's meet with high hopes in the 4x400 meter relay, as the Elis have actually recorded the best 4x400-meter time in the Ivy League this season. The team of Alexandre, Hurley, Lindberg and Rowe recorded a 3:15.30—the 12th-fastest time in Yale history—at the Terrier Invitational a few weekends ago, and that foursome has clearly cemented its place as the team's top relay squad.

The Bulldogs also figure to perform well in the pole vault and long jump, thanks to the efforts of Lindberg and sophomore Brendan Sullivan. Although he competes in the sprints, Lindberg doubles as Yale's ace long jumper. He will be looking to build off the mark of 23'1.75" (7.05m) that he recorded last weekend—the best measurement he had registered in competition since last April. Sullivan, meanwhile, has had a phenomenal season in the pole vault, recording three first-place finishes, shattering his previous personal record and approaching some of Yale's all-time pole vaulting greats in the record books. He currently holds the third-best mark in the Ivy League this season.

Senior James Shirvell will also give the Elis an excellent chance to score in the middle-distance events. He currently holds the third-fastest mile time and the ninth-fastest 800-meter time in the Ivy League this season, and it was just a few weeks ago that he easily broke Yale's all-time mile run record. Other runners to watch for in the middle-distance events—the 800-meter; 1,000-meter and mile runs—include sophomore Kevin Dooney, junior Michael Grace, sophomore John Mahoney, junior Alexander McDonald, sophomore Max Payson and freshman James Randon. Grace especially has had a strong season in the 1,000-meter race, while Dooney—a cross country star—ran well in the mile last weekend.

Dooney has also, however, had an impressive season competing in the 3,000-meter race, and he could thus run that event as well. Interestingly, Randon actually edged out Dooney in the 3,000-meter event last weekend (8:21.26 to 8:21.33) as the pair placed first and second in the event, both qualifying for the IC4As in the process. Junior Isa Qasim and sophomore Duncan Tomlin are two other runners to keep an eye on in the 3,000-meter event, as both have run solid times in the race this season.

Additionally, while the Elis have only competed in the 4x800 meter relay twice this season, it appears likely—at least if those two meets are any indication—that Yale's top team will consist of Grace, Mahoney, Payson and a fourth runner such as Randon or freshman Tim Cox.

In the 60-meter hurdles, the usual trio of junior Daniel Kemp, freshman Austin Loewen and freshman Torren Peebles should be expected to compete. The three hurdlers have performed similarly to one another throughout the season and have finished in different orders meet-to-meet.

Finally, senior John Oppenheimer and freshman Luke Persichetti will likely lead the Bulldogs in the shot put, in addition to possibly the weight throw. The duo has focused on the shot put for most of the season, and Persichetti currently holds the team's top mark in the event—45'2.25" (13.77m)—which he set last week.

The H-Y-P meet will begin at 12:00 p.m. and conclude by around 5:30 p.m. A full schedule of events is available here. Full results will be available at www.yalebulldogs.com following the conclusion of the meet.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity