Randon and Shirvell Qualify for Sunday's 1,500-Meter Final
NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The Yale men's track and field team hosted its third meet in the past four weeks when it opened competition at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships (Heps) at its own Dewitt Cuyler Athletic Complex on Saturday. The Bulldogs last hosted outdoor Heps in 2011, and the team was excited to open this year's postseason on its own track.
Saturday's events included some field events, preliminary trials in most of the track events and the 10,000-meter finals. The action will continue on Sunday with the completion of the remaining field events, the relays and the final rounds of most of the track events. At the end of day one, the Elis sit in sixth place with six points. Harvard (54 points), Dartmouth (26) and Princeton (24.33) currently hold the top three spots, respectively, but the majority of the scoring will take place on Sunday.
With only a handful of scored events taking place on Saturday, sophomore Kevin Dooney got the Elis on the scoreboard with his third-place finish in the 10,000-meter run. Dooney's time of 29:29.92 placed him just behind two of the Ivy League's best distance runners: Penn sophomore Thomas Awad (29:26.13) and Harvard senior James Leakos (29:26.83), who took first and second, respectively. The strong race—an improvement from the ninth-place finish he recorded in the event at last year's outdoor Heps—was not at all a surprise for anyone who has followed Dooney's performances during his first two collegiate seasons. Dooney qualified for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in 2013, holds the school record in the 5,000-meters and is currently positioned to qualify for the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round (the qualifier for the NCAA Championships) in both the 5,000-meters and 10,000-meters.
"Dooney ran a really tough race for third place, behind two great runners," said senior team captain James Shirvell. "He is truly one of the best runners in the country, and we were all very proud of his performance."
Shirvell and freshman James Randon, meanwhile, also ran especially well, competing in Saturday's 1,500-meter preliminary round. Both runners managed to earn spots in Sunday's final round race. Shirvell (3:49.91) placed second in his heat and fourth overall to easily grab one of the ten spots in Sunday's final. In his final Heps, Shirvell will be seeking to improve on his sixth-place finish in last year's Heps 1,500-meter final. Randon, running in the same heat as Shirvell, grabbed the fourth and final qualifying spot from his heat and finished with the ninth-fastest overall time—a personal record mark of 3:50.80. The time not only guaranteed Randon a place in Sunday's final round race, but also made him eligible to compete in the 1,500-meters at the IC4A Championships next weekend. Freshman Andre Ivankovic also competed in Saturday's race, finishing with the 13th-fastest time (3:53.86). Although Ivankovic failed to move on from prelims, his time broke his previous personal record in the event by nearly three seconds.
"We are very excited for day two of Heps tomorrow," said Shirvell. "Randon and I are looking forward to the 1,500-meter final. It's nice to have two people in a final together. Hopefully, we can work together to score a lot of points for our team."
Apart from Dooney, the Bulldogs entered only two athletes in scored final events on Saturday: freshman Luke Persichetti and sophomore Brendan Sullivan. Competing for the first time since early April, Sullivan placed seventh in the pole vault, finishing with an impressive mark of 15'9" (4.80m). Sullivan—who cleared the bar at 15'9" (4.80m) on his first attempt—tied his previous outdoor meet personal record on Saturday, although he fell a bit shy of his overall record of 16'4.75" (5.00m), which he set in a first-place finish at the Terrier Invitational during the indoor season. Persichetti, for his part, placed 16th in the hammer throw with a mark of 137'10" (42.02m). The freshman has emerged as the Elis' top performer in the hammer throw and shot put during his debut season. He is slated to take part in the latter event on Sunday.
The Elis entered runners in preliminary rounds of six other events on Saturday. Junior Daniel Kemp (14.85) just missed out on qualifying for the final round of the 110-meter hurdles, finishing seven-hundredths of a second behind Dartmouth freshman Alex Frye, who earned the fourth and final qualifying spot from their heat. The required mark for IC4A qualification in the 110-meter hurdles happens to be 14.85, however, so Kemp will nevertheless leave the meet happy to have earned himself a spot at an additional postseason meet next weekend. Kemp's showing was made even more impressive by the fact that he broke his previous non-wind-aided personal record in the event by more than half of a second. Freshmen Austin Loewen (15.11) and Torren Peebles (17.91) finished with the 11th- and 15th-fastest overall times, respectively, in the event. Junior William Rowe (1:05.88), meanwhile, finished 12th overall in the 400-meter hurdle prelims. Despite failing to qualify for the final race, Rowe will likely be competing next weekend, having already qualified for the IC4As in the event.
Four different Bulldogs competed in the short sprint events on Saturday. Freshman Marc-Andre Alexandre (10.98), senior Daniel Jones (11.05) and sophomore Martin Tolentino (11.41) finished 15th, 17th and 20th, respectively, in the 100-meter prelims, while senior Nnamdi Udeh (22.08) just edged out Jones (22.19) to place 13th overall in the 200-meter prelims. Alexandre has become the team's top sprinter during the course of the season but has struggled with some nagging injuries as of late and was competing in the 100-meter dash for just the second time at the collegiate level. Competing in their final Heps, Jones and Udeh also ran well. Jones, in fact, recorded his top 100-meter time of the season, while Udeh registered the fastest (albeit wind-aided) 200-meter time of his career.
Junior Mario Kranjac (50.67), freshman Chandler Crusan (50.76) and junior Dylan Hurley (51.69) finished back-to-back-to-back in the 400-meter dash for the second consecutive meet. The only difference was that, this time, it was Kranjac who edged out Crusan (and not the other way around) for the top spot.
Finally, in the 800-meter run prelims, junior Michael Grace led the way with a time of 1:55.30—the 16th-fastest time in the field. Junior Jacob Sandry (1:57.57), sophomore Alexander McDonald (1:58.33) and freshman Tim Cox (2:00.69) finished 19th, 21st and 22nd overall, respectively, in the race. All four runners should expect to be back competing in the same event at next year's Heps, and the future for the Elis' middle-distance group looks especially bright.
Sunday's events will begin at 11:00 a.m., and results will be available on www.yalebulldogs.com at the conclusion of the day. The Ivy League will also provide a live video feed of Sunday's action (starting at 11:30 a.m.) at http://www.ivyleaguedigitalnetwork.com. Live results will be available at http://www.lancertiming.com/results/spring14/IvyLeagueHEPS/index.htm.
Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity