Randon, Shirvell and Tomlin Score in Heps Final Rounds

James Randon. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
James Randon. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Score Points in Two Individual Events and Two Relays on Day Two

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The Yale men's track and field team wrapped up its first postseason meet of the outdoor season when it concluded competition at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships (Heps) on Sunday. The meet, held at Yale's own Dewitt Cuyler Athletic Complex, spanned both Saturday and Sunday, with Sunday's action including the relays, many field events and final rounds in many track events. The Bulldogs finished the weekend in eighth place overall with a total of 20 points—one more than their point total at last year's outdoor Heps. Cornell won the meet with a total of 149 points. Princeton (142.33 points), Harvard (109), Penn (82), Dartmouth (66.66), Columbia (61) and Brown (52) finished second through seventh, respectively.

The Bulldogs entered day two of the meet with six points thanks to sophomore Kevin Dooney's third-place finish in the 10,000-meter race on Saturday. On Sunday, the Elis finished in the top six in three individual events and two relays, adding 14 points to their team total.

After qualifying for Sunday's final round through their strong performances in Saturday's prelim, freshman James Randon (3:50.34) and senior James Shirvell (3:48.55) each ran well enough in the 1,500-meter final to add points to the Bulldogs' tally. Competing in a field of 10 of the top runners in the Ivy League, Shirvell finished fourth overall, trailing the third-place finisher, Princeton freshman William Paulson, by the very slimmest of margins—just two-thousandths of a second. Shirvell competed in the 1,500-meters at the NCAA Division I National Championships last season, and his season-best time of 3:44.31 (en route to a longer mile race at the Penn Relays in April) leaves him well-positioned to potentially qualify for the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round, which feeds into the NCAA Championships, again this year.

"It was unfortunate to lose out on third by .002, but those things happen, and I was still happy," said Shirvell, the team captain, about his own performance. "That race will help me in the future." 

Randon, meanwhile, finished sixth overall on Sunday, setting a personal record by beating out his time in Saturday's prelim by 0.46 seconds. Both of Randon's 1,500-meter performances this weekend just met the IC4A Championship qualification requirement of 3:51.00, meaning that Randon may compete in the event at the IC4As next weekend. Dartmouth senior Steve Mangan ran a season-best time of 3:46.23 to finish first in Sunday's final. Combined, Randon (one point) and Shirvell (four points) earned Yale five of its 20 points on the weekend.

Sophomore Duncan Tomlin (9:03.20) also impressed on Sunday, setting a personal record and finishing fourth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Tomlin—who earned four points for his team—was running the steeplechase, his best outdoor event, for the fourth time this season. Tomlin has made great strides since his freshman season, when he finished 12th at Heps with a steeplechase mark of 9:17.50 (a personal record at the time). Tomlin has broken his personal record three times since then, finishing 13th at the prestigious Stanford Invitational and 10th at the historic Penn Relays before his Heps performance on Sunday—which outdid his previous personal best by more than six seconds.

The Elis earned the rest of their points in two relay events. The 4x800-meter relay team of junior Michael Grace, freshman Andre Ivankovic, sophomore Alexander McDonald and junior Jacob Sandry placed fourth out of eight teams, grabbing four points and finishing with an impressive time of 7:32.68. That mark—which fell less than one second shy of the third-place team from Penn—was even good enough to earn Yale a spot at the IC4As, meaning the team's coaches may choose to enter a squad in the event next weekend. In the 4x400 meter relay, meanwhile, the team of freshman Marc-Andre Alexandre, junior Mario Kranjac, junior William Rowe and senior Nnamdi Udeh finished sixth and ran a 3:14.44, Yale's best time of the season in the event by more than five seconds. The Elis had entered teams in the 4x400 meter relay four times this season entering this weekend, but Sunday marked the first time that one of their teams had met the IC4A qualification standards. The 4x400-meter relay team secured one point for the Bulldogs.

Shirvell was more than satisfied with Yale's performances on Sunday, and he singled out those who scored as running exceptionally well.

"Tomlin and Randon were both very impressive in getting points for the team in two very deep fields," Shirvell said. "The [4x800-meter relay team] was spectacular. Those guys really put it all out there, and they gained a lot of confidence in the process. The [4x400-meter relay team] was great as well. Running a huge season best—every guy on that team earned it."

In the 4x100 meter relay, the team of Alexandre, Udeh, junior Dylan Hurley and senior Daniel Jones ran a 41.90, beating out the Elis' previous season-best time by nearly a full second. Although the team finished seventh and did not manage to score, they were the third Yale relay team to earn IC4A qualification on Sunday.

The Bulldogs also entered three runners in Sunday's 5,000-meter final. Junior Isa Qasim (15:04.48) ran well and placed 13th overall, although he fell a few seconds shy of the personal record he set at the Penn Relays a couple weeks ago. Likely running in his last collegiate race, senior Ryan Laemel (15:11.81) placed 17th, one spot ahead of junior John McGowan (15:14.94). One of Yale's top cross country runners, McGowan has traditionally competed and excelled in the middle-distance events during the track season. Sunday marked the first time McGowan has competed in the 5,000-meters during his three years of collegiate competition.

Finally, senior John Oppenheimer and freshman Luke Persichetti represented the Elis in the shot put. Persichetti (50'6.75" – 15.41m) set a personal record in the event. In fact, despite reaching his top mark on his third and final attempt, Persichetti's first toss actually also beat his previous record. Competing in his final collegiate meet, Oppenheimer (42'9.5" – 13.04m) barely set a personal record, outdoing his previous personal best by just more than one inch. Like Persichetti, Oppenheimer reached his best mark on his final attempt, ending his track and field career on a high note.

"It was a great day," Shirvell said. "We had a lot of people step up, and it was fantastic. We are definitely moving in the right direction."

With Heps now completed, many Bulldogs have officially seen their seasons (and for others, their careers) come to a close. For some of the Elis' top athletes, however, the postseason will continue next weekend at the IC4As, scheduled for May 16-18.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity