Two of Yale's Star Athletes Compete on Day One of NCAA Championship Qualifier
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—The Yale men's track and field team had two of its own athletes compete on day one of the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round on Thursday. In order to qualify for the meet, which continues on Friday and Saturday, athletes had to record one of the top 48 marks in a given event among the athletes in the designated East region during the outdoor season. The top 12 competitors in each event in Jacksonville advance to the NCAA Championships, scheduled to take place June 11-14 in Eugene, Ore.
The Bulldogs had three of their top athletes—sophomore Kevin Dooney, senior James Shirvell and sophomore Duncan Tomlin—qualify for this weekend's meet, and Dooney and Shirvell both competed on Thursday alongside some of the best athletes in the country. Tomlin will race on Friday.
Early in the evening, Shirvell took to the track in the 1,500-meter race, an event in which he competed at the NCAA Championships last year. Despite a strong season and a valiant effort on Thursday, the team captain did not do quite enough to advance to Saturday's second-round 1,500-meter race, finishing with a time of 3:55.95. Thursday's race marks Shirvell's final collegiate race and the end of a remarkably impressive career.
Shirvell entered the season with high expectations after running at the NCAA Championships last year and still managed to put together an especially strong senior season. After shattering Yale's mile run school record during the indoor season, he placed fifth in the mile run final at the indoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championships (Heps). During the outdoor season, Shirvell continued his top-tier running, finishing first in the 800-meters in his final Harvard-Yale meet, placing seventh in the Olympic Development Men's Mile Run event at the historic Penn Relays, finishing fourth in the 1,500-meter final at outdoor Heps and earning qualification to the East Preliminary Round for the second consecutive season.
"James leaves Yale as the best miler to come through the program," said Middle Distance and Distance Coach Paul Harkins.
In addition to holding Yale's mile run record, Shirvell will also end his career with the school's all-time 1,500-meter record, a mark he set at last year's East Preliminary Round. Last season, he was awarded Yale's Gardner Millet Memorial Trophy, an annual distinction celebrating an "outstanding member of the Men's Track and Field Team who excels in Sportsmanship, Courage, and Inspiration." Shirvell then served as team captain this past season. Two weeks ago, he was awarded (along with Dooney) Yale's Jim Stack Award, which is given each year to the athlete who best personifies Jim Stack '61, the captain of the 1961 Yale track and field team that won the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet, the Ivy League Championships and the IC4A Championship all in the same season.
"James has been a huge catalyst in getting the program heading in the right direction, as he has been a great leader who his teammates look up to," added Harkins. "It has been a pleasure to be James' coach these past three years. His competitive spirit is second to none."
Meanwhile, Dooney competed late Thursday evening in the 10,000-meter run. Despite running in just his second collegiate season, Dooney, like Shirvell, has a long list of accomplishments to his name, including ownership of Yale's 5,000-meter run record and a trip to the 2013 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Dooney ran well on Thursday, registering a time of 30:32.55. He finished in 19th place in a field of 48 of the nation's best distance runners, falling just shy of earning a spot at the NCAA Championships.
Thursday's race marks the end of a season that saw Dooney place third in the 5,000-meters at indoor Heps, finish fourth in the 3,000-meters at the indoor IC4A Championships, run the second-fastest 10,000-meter personal record in school history at the Stanford Invitational, place first overall among 61 runners in the 5,000-meters at the Penn Relays and finish third in the 10,000-meters at outdoor Heps.
The Elis will see their final athlete compete tomorrow, when Tomlin takes part in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The race is set to begin at 8:50 p.m. Results will be available on www.yalebulldogs.com
Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity