April 23, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldog men's track and field team will enter the weekend with high hopes as it prepares to face some of the top competition of the year at the historic Penn Relays while hosting the Yale Springtime Invitational on Sunday at Dwyer Track. The team, which last was in action in a big win over Harvard last weekend, will be ready to face the tough competition in a limited number of relay and individual events at Penn while competing in a large number of events at home.
The Penn Relays is synonymous with American track and field and for the Bulldog athletes that are competing at the meet, it is one of the defining experiences of a career in track and field. The Penn Relays, which are held annually, are the longest continuously running collegiate track and field meet. Moreover, though, the meet is also one of the most popular in the world, having an attendance greater than any other meet except for the Olympics and the World Championships. This year, more than 22,000 entries are expected to run at the historic Franklin Field venue while it is expected that more than 100,000 spectators will attend, including 45,000 during Saturday's competition alone.
The Penn Relays is also an opportunity for the Bulldog athletes to compete at the top track and field talent in the world. While the Eli runners will be focusing on the collegiate competition, the meet also includes numerous high school races as well as elite races that include the extremely popular USA vs. the World relays. Each year, Jamaica, one of the strongest nations in track and field, sends relay teams to the meet that face off against contingents of runners from the United States.
The Bulldogs, despite sending a limited squad to the meet, should expect to do well. The team will be led by senior thrower Jeffrey Lachman, who had a phenomenal weekend against Harvard. The Eli thrower unleashed the throw of his life in the discus against Harvard on Saturday, breaking the school record from 1970 with his effort of 58.29 meters. Lachman, who is ranked as the eighth-best collegiate thrower in the nation, will compete in the Championship division of the discus along with throwing the hammer, another event that he won against Harvard. Last year, Lachman took fourth in the discus at the Penn Relays. He should face some of the toughest competition of the year, though, as Yemi Ayeni of Virginia, who took second at the NCAA Championships last year, will be in action. Senior Nathan Noll will also compete for the Bulldogs in the throws after achieving an NCAA Regional qualifying mark in the discus last weekend.
Beyond the throws, the team should also expect to do well in the limited schedule of events that the Bulldogs are planning to compete in. Junior Eric DePalo will compete in the Eastern section of the pole vault. He had a great meet at Penn last year, winning his section of the event and taking fifth overall. Senior Samuel Fox should also help the team out in his specialty, the high jump, after winning the event against Harvard. Two runners from Yale will also compete in the 5,000-meter run at the Relays. They are the only Bulldogs competing in an individual track event at the meet.
The team will also field three competitive teams in the relays, the portion of the meet that the competition is most famous for. The Bulldogs will have teams compete in the 4x400-, 4x800-meter and Distance Medley Relay teams at the meet. Last year, the team did well in each of the events and the Bulldogs have the potential to do even better this year. Last year, the 4x400-meter relay team took second in the Heptagonal heat while the Distance Medley Relay competed in the Championships of America heat, reserved for the top teams at the meet. The 4x800-meter team won its section of the meet and had a time that was fast enough to place in the top 10 of the Championship of America section.
Senior captain Brandon Giles thinks the Penn Relays are a great opportunity to get in some quality competition.
"We are taking a smaller team than normal to the Penn Relays, but everyone who is going is capable of running very well there and has experience there," Giles said. "It is an opportunity to show off and see how fast you can go with great competition. Everyone who is competing is expected to do well and the great competition should help it. Especially for the distance medley, this is the best competition they will have all year and it is also an opportunity for Jeff Lachman to throw against some of the top throwers after having an incredible weekend at Harvard."
Events start on Thursday and end Saturday. A complete schedule of events can be found here. Results will be posted live at www.thepennrelays.com and will be posted on YaleBulldogs.com at the end of each day of competition.
The Bulldogs will also compete at the Yale Springtime Invitational. The meet, which will feature strong competition from around the region, is the last home meet of the year for the team and the last opportunity for the seniors on the team to compete at Dwyer Track. Athletes not competing at the Penn Relays will be in action at the meet, along with a limited selection of those competing at Penn.
Giles is looking forward to the meet as it is a great opportunity for the team to compete at home.
"For the seniors at the Springtime Invitational, it is the last home meet, so it will be a big deal for them," Giles said. "It is the last opportunity to get in some good competition before Heps and before we begin our taper. We have been doing very well this year and the performance against Harvard was really encouraging. Everyone did what they needed to do to win the meet, including competing in some events they normally don't do. Whenever you run against a big rival, you want to do your best and we certainly did that."
Competition will take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Penn Relays. The Yale Springtime Invitational will get underway at 10:00 a.m. with the field events while the track events will get underway at 12:00 p.m. A full schedule is available here. Buses will be available to transport spectators between Payne Whitney Gym and the track every 15 minutes, starting at 8:00 a.m.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity