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Bulldogs Start Season Saturday

Shannon McDonnell. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Shannon McDonnell. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale women's track & field team starts its 2015-16 campaign with the Yale Season Opener at Coxe Cage this Saturday. The Bulldogs boast 12 impressive recruits and two new coaches, Matt McMasters and Wilfredo de Jesus Elias, who will add to an already impressive team. This team has some of the best athletes Yale has ever seen: Of the 30 returning Bulldogs, nine have already made it on to the Yale All-Time Indoor Top 10 in individual events, and another five have made it as parts of relay teams.

In anticipation of the season opener, below is the preview of the indoor portion of the season by event:

 

HURDLES

Senior Mackenzie Mathews looks to build upon her impressive breakout season last year in which she set a school record in the 60-meter hurdles. Though a specialist primarily in the hurdles, Mathews has slowly inched towards breaking into the Yale Indoor Top 10 in the 200-meter dash as well. 

The Bulldogs can also look forward to four outstanding recruits who will seek to carry on the reputation that Mathews has helped build for Yale hurdling. These recruits -- freshmen Lindsey Combs, Alexandra Lee, Aja Thorpe and Bridget Tobias -- will additionally race in sprint events throughout the season. This portion of the team will definitely be one to watch as the new hurdlers hit their stride.

 

JUMPS 

Seniors Megan Toon and Renee Vogel hope to finish their last indoor season at Yale strong. A specialist in pole-vaulting, Vogel already has the fifth-best height for the event in Yale history. Toon, specializing in the high jump, is very few inches away from also achieving one of the best heights in that event. Junior Lillian Foote will also aim towards breaking her personal best this season. Junior Rachel Wofford, the team's sole specialist in the long jump and triple jump, has the opportunity to step up following the graduation of Alisha Jordan '15.

 

THROWS

The throws team will be led this year by junior Kate Simon, who owns the fourth-best shot put and ninth-best weight throw in Yale history. She will look to improve on ninth place finish in the weight throw at last year's Indoor Heptagonal Championships. She is joined by freshman Evelyn Roberts.

 

SPRINTS

Senior team captain Sydney Cureton and junior Katerra Logan are two of Yale's best sprinters of all time. They both enter the indoor season third and eighth, respectively, on Yale's Top 10 All-Time best 60-meter dash performances.

 

MIDDLE DISTANCE 

Senior Shannon McDonnell has established herself as one of the best sprinter/middle distance runner Yale has had, having the second-best times in both the 500-meter dash and 800-meter run. Last season she placed an impressive seventh in the 800-meter at both the indoor and outdoor ECAC championships. Her classmate, Grace Brittan, has also put together an impressive career: last season she placed fourth in the finals for the 1,000-meter run at the indoor ECAC championship. Brittan also has the sixth-best time for a Yale athlete in this event, and is within striking distance of breaking into the Top 10 for the 800-meter run. Needless to say, McDonnell and Britton are set up for very impressive indoor seasons.

After a breakout cross country season in which she led her team to its best Heptagonal finish in 13 years, junior Frances Schmiede will look to carry the momentum towards more gains during the indoor season. After finishing seventh at the Heptagonal Championship, however, it might not be surprising to see Schmiede featured in longer distance events as well. She flourishes in both events, so it is probable that as the season progresses she will decide which events to lean towards.

Schmiede is not the only runner carrying a lot of momentum over from a stellar cross country season. Freshmen Ellie Atkinson, Emma Lower and Gabrielle Rinne also excelled this past fall. Atkinson and Rinne both finished within the top seven for the team at the Cross Country Heptagonal Championship. Furthermore, Lower and Rinne both had high school personal bests at 2:12, which would set the stage for a possibly historical 4x800-meter relay this season. Atkinson's specialty, however, will probably be more towards the 1,500-meter and one-mile runs.

Sophomores Melissa Fairchild, Sarah Healy and Calleigh Higgins, and junior Delaney FitzPatrick, comprise the remainder of the returning middle-distance athletes. 

 

DISTANCE 

Junior Emily Waligurski and senior Elizabeth McDonald are the key distance runners on the team. Both have times in the Yale All-Time Top 10 within their respective events. During the 2015 outdoor season, Waligurski qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round in the 1,500-meter run.

After making substantial gains during the 2015 cross country season, juniors Rachel Jones and Meredith Rizzo and sophomore Dana Klein hope to carry over some of that momentum to improve upon their 1,500-meter and one-mile run times. Sophomores Samantha Glass and Kelli Reagan will also use some of the momentum from the cross country season to improve on their 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter runs.

One athlete to watch for is freshman Andrea Masterson. During her first season as a Bulldog, she has already established herself as one of the top seven cross country runners on the team. She also owns astounding personal bests in the 1,600 and 3,000-meter runs. It's unclear yet what events Masterson will run, but it will probably be on the longer end of 3,000 and 5,000-meter runs. She will be joined in these events by sophomores Julia Borowski, Clare Carroll, Claire Ewing-Nelson, Katrina Garry and Katherine Raphael, and juniors Emily Barnes, Jennie Callan and Chandler Olson.

Other recruits who will be making their debut their collegiate track debuts soon include freshmen Caroline Beakes, Emily Kaplan and Kate Zendell. All three runners offer a promising future for the Bulldogs since they all own personal bests comparable to Masterson's in the 3,000-meter and the 1,600-meter runs.

Report by Ariel Sánchez '19, Yale Sports Publicity