A Second Straight Trip to the National Final for Grace

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Kate Grace. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Grace Advances with Second-Fastest Time of the Day

DES MOINES, Iowa – Senior Kate Grace advanced to the final of the 800-meter run during the first day of competition at the NCAA Division I Championship. Grace placed second in her heat in 2:03.48, which was also second-fastest of all 24 competitors in the national semi-final. She has competed in the national semi-final in each of her four seasons at Yale, and this marks her second time advancing to the final; she placed seventh last year in 2:05.92 to earn All-America honors.

Those who placed in the top two of their heats, along with the next two fastest overall, advanced to the final. To do so, Grace tucked right behind Chanelle Price of Tennessee at the beginning of the second heat and did not relinquish her place. Price ran the only sub-2:03 split of the day, finishing in 2:02.84. The second heat was the fastest of the three, with both of the athletes advancing on time instead of place coming from the second. Each of the eight athletes who advanced ran below 2:05, meaning that Friday's final should be extremely competitive.

Grace's first appearance at the outdoor national championship as a freshman occurred at the same Drake Stadium in Des Moines that is currently hosting the 2011 championship.

She reflected on the journey she's taken since then to reach that stage again: "It's so funny, going through the same motions again. Each meet is different but I vaguely remember the process on this track freshman year, and it was very clear to me how much I've grown since then. I was so much more calm and prepared [today]. I feel ready."

This time, she holds much higher expectations: a national title.

"Last year, the finals were the objective, so once you're there it's all just frosting on the cake," Grace said, speaking about her seventh-place finish. "Now, [reaching the final] is a goal but it's not the end goal. Don't get this far and dream about second! I want to win."

One constant through her four seasons has been Coach Mark Young '68. Young will retire after Grace's final NCAA appearance, marking the end of his 31 years with the program.

"There are certain things that I go to for inspiration, reasons that I run, reasons that I win, and he's definitely one of them," Grace said of her coach. "It's been a very special coaching relationship to have him these four years and I'm really happy that I can give this to him as his final appearance at Nationals as a coach."

Her race will start at 7:10 p.m. central time on June 10. Live video and results are available.

Report by Natalie Villa '13, Yale Sports Publicity