NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Three members of the Yale men's track and field team will be traveling to Tampa, Fla., to compete in the NCAA East Preliminary Round, which starts on Thursday. For each event, the top 48 athletes in the east region have been invited to compete at the meet, with the top 12 finishers in each event to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, held June 6 – 9 in Eugene, Ore. The Bulldogs set to compete this weekend are Paedyn Gomes, Austin Laut and Trevor Reinhart.
Reinhart will be competing in the 1500m run, and he is no stranger to what it takes to advance through the East Preliminary meet and qualify for NCAA's; he did it last year, as a sophomore. At East Prelims, the 1500m run will be contested over two rounds: a first round of 48, split into four sections – in which the top 24 advance to the quarterfinal – and a quarterfinal of 24, split into two sections, with the top 12 qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Reinhart is entering the meet ranked 10th in the region, with his time of 3:43.17, and has been racing confidently in the recent weeks. Throughout this season, he has made sure to put himself in good position to win races/qualify for final rounds with his closing speed, which will be an asset to his effort this weekend. If Reinhart can channel the same energy that earned him a spot at NCAA's last year, then it will not be a surprise to anyone if he finds himself on a booked flight to Eugene in early June.
Reinhart commented on this weekend, and what it'll take to advance, saying, "I'm really excited for this weekend, and everyone we have competing. The competition will be tight but I am confident that what we have been doing all year has been leading up to this meet. We just have to go out there, trust ourselves and push for the best finish we can."
Captain Gomes, set to compete in the 110mH, is also well-acquainted with racing at the East Preliminary meet, having competed there in 2016 and 2017. However, he has not yet qualified for the NCAA Championships, so he is hoping that his experience with the meet will carry him there this weekend. The 110mH, much like the 1500m run, will consist of a first round of 48 athletes, and a quarterfinal of 24 athletes; the top 12 from the quarterfinal will advance to NCAA's. Gomes is coming off the race of his career at the Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonal Championships, where he won the 110mH with a new personal record of 13.92. That time has him ranked 27th entering East Prelims, which is right outside the top-24 bubble. If Gomes can find a way to sneak out of the first round and into the quarterfinal, then he should be presented with a very realistic opportunity at qualifying to compete in Eugene.
When asked to comment on the meet, Gomes said, "I'm really looking forward to this meet and I'm hoping it's a good one for the guys we're sending. The field is great and I would love to make it to the next round, but if I don't I want to go out on a high note with a race I can be happy with. I'm happy I can have at least one more chance to race for Yale."
In a more lighthearted manner, Gomes also said, keeping in mind it might potentially be his last race as a Bulldog, "I'm just gonna go have fun," reassuring that, regardless of the outcome, he still wants to make sure he savors every second of his race.
Laut, much like Gomes, competed at the East Preliminary meet in 2016 and 2017, providing him with some valuable experience entering the meet. Laut will be competing in the pole vault, which will be contested differently than the running events. In the pole vault, there will be only one round in which all 48 athletes will compete. The top 12 finishers, by their highest mark, will qualify for the NCAA Championships. Laut is entering the meet ranked 31st with his season best mark of 5.17m. In 2016, Laut placed 21st, only nine spots away from qualifying for NCAA's, so he has proven that he knows what it takes and has the ability to make a run for Eugene this weekend. Laut consistently placed well this season, securing high finishes at big meets all year, so all it will take is one good jump to put him in contention for a qualifying spot.
The first round of the men's 1500m run will take place on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., with the quarterfinal set for Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The first round of the men's 110mH will go off at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, and the quarterfinal will be held Saturday at 7:05 p.m. The pole vault will be contested Thursday at 1:00 p.m.
Report by Zachary Capello '19, Yale Sports Publicity.