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Bulldog Alums Take On USATF Championships

Kira Garry, Kate Grace and James Randon. (photos by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Kira Garry, Kate Grace and James Randon. (photos by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. ­­– Three of Yale's finest athletes will hit the track at the USATF Outdoor Championships this weekend in sunny Sacramento, Calif. Middle-distance athletes Kate Grace '11 and James Randon '17 will compete in the 1,500-meter run while Kira Garry '15 will be featured in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. All three Bulldog alums will compete back-to-back-to-back in the first rounds of their respective events on Thursday evening: Garry will compete at 7:13 p.m. PST, and Randon and Grace will compete in the 1,500-meter run at 7:44 p.m. and 8:05 p.m. PST, respectively. 

"I'm thrilled to have a Yale contingent representing at the US Championships, with eyes on excelling at the highest stage," said Grace of this weekend's competition. "I always get an extra boost seeing my former track coaches. I look forward to cheering on Bulldogs in their races." 

The U.S.A. Outdoor Championships features the nation's best athletes across 22 different events, all of whom had to meet a stringent qualifying standard. The top three athletes in the final of each event will get the chance to represent the U.S. at the IAAF World Championships in London in August. With record-high temperatures in the triple digits forecasted over the next couple of days, race-time conditions will be quite treacherous for all the competitors. 

First up for the Bulldogs will be Garry competing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, an event that she dominated while at Yale. She was the previous Yale record holder, running a collegiate best of 10:08.10 in her final race representing the Bulldogs. While at Yale, Garry thrived in both middle-distance and distance events, running one of the finest indoor 3,000-meter run times in recent Yale history in addition to other strong performances. After graduation, she joined the track team at the University of Michigan, competing in a number of indoor distance events. She qualified for USAs with a time of 9:58.18 and will compete against 23 other competitors in the first of two rounds going off at approximately 7:13 p.m. PST. 

"Seeing Kate excel at the next level always inspired me at Yale. Watching her transition from wearing the Y to winning big track races helped me believe I could keep working towards big goal," said Garry regarding to opportunity to compete at USAs. "The days on the golf course, the miles in Coxe Cage, and the team's support system helped launch me to the next level in finishing my eligibility at Michigan and now continuing to pursue running." 

Garry majored in environmental studies and was a member of Berkeley College at Yale. She is a native of Montauk, N.Y., and attended Friends Academy. 

Randon will compete in the event that follows, the 1,500-meter run. A recent graduate, Randon enjoyed one of the most prolific careers in Yale history, including eight All-Ivy honors in addition to earning first team All-American honors at the 2016 NCAA National Championships. Randon made history in 2016 when he became the first Yale athlete to break the 4:00 mile barrier, running a time of 3:58.85. For having such a prolific career, Randon earned the William Neely Mallory Award at graduation, the most prestigious athletic award given to a senior male at Yale. He earned an 'A' standard qualifying time this past season with a time of 3:37.93 in the 1,500-meter run. In a field of 35 athletes, including Olympic gold-medalist Matthew Centrowitz, as well as two other Olympians who represented Team USA in the 1,500-meter run, Randon will compete in the men's 1,500-meter run at 7:44 p.m. PST. 

"It's been really exciting to be able to represent Yale one last time," commented Randon about competing this weekend. "I've been hanging around New Haven to train these past few weeks, and its allowed me to say a proper goodbye to the place as my friends slowly left. I'll always be repping the Y in my heart, but this weekend is the last time I'll rep it on my chest!"

Randon majored in history and was a member of Morse College at Yale. He is a native of New Canaan, Conn., and attended the Middlesex School. 

Grace will cap off the evening for the Bulldogs as she competes in the 1,500-meter run. She had a career breakthrough last year when she earned a spot at the Olympics with a win in the 800-meter run at the USATF Olympic Trials. She went on to become the only American woman to qualify for the Olympic finals, finishing eighth. 

Yet to Bulldogs fans, Grace's success comes at no surprise given her prolific Yale career. As a Bulldog, Grace broke four records and qualified for multiple NCAA National Championships in both the 800- and 1,500-meter runs. The four-time All-American and six-time Ivy League 800 champion closed her collegiate career by earning the Nellie Pratt Elliot Award, the most prestigious athletic award bestowed upon a graduating senior female. She kept up with her training after college by joining the New Jersey-New York Track Club in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Trials. Grace went professional in 2012, but would unfortunately be sidelined by injury for more than 18 months. Despite running her first race after said injury in February 2016, just a few months before the Olympics, Grace still qualified for the USATF Olympic Trials. The rest is history. She will run in the first round of the 1,500-meter run at 8:05 p.m. PST. 

Grace majored in environmental studies and was a member of Saybrook College at Yale. She is a native of Santa Monica, Calif., and attended Marlborough High. 

The finals of all the events that Yale alums are competing in take place on Saturday. 

Live video of the event can be seen at http://olympics.nbcsports.com/2017/06/19/usa-track-and-field-championships-broadcast-schedule/, and fans can see live results at this link: [the link has not been posted but I will update this when I have that information available]. Check out yalebulldogs.com for daily recaps of USAs. 

Preview by Ariel A. Sánchez'19, Yale Sports Publicity