April 4, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldogs had a busy weekend in competing in their first East coast outdoor meets of the season. While jumpers and throwers went to the Sam Howell Invitational in Princeton, N.J., most of the runners traveled further to the 44th Colonial Relays in Williamsburg, Va. At both meets high winds and threatening thunderstorms made competing more of a challenge than usual. At William and Mary, despite competing with a depleted number of athletes, the Yale team ended their first day with 18 points, which was good for ninth place out of 18 scoring teams, and finished the meet Saturday in 11th place out of 23 teams with 31 points.
At the unscored Sam Howell Invitational, bad weather affected the team's performance. Due to the team's split, no one competed in any of the running events there on Friday, and the men's throwing events were postponed due to the high winds and possible thunderstorm.
On Saturday a few Bulldogs competed in distance events. That included sophomore Liya Assefa, who competed in the 1,500-meter run to earn fifth place in 4:57.02, and senior Claire Leatherwood, who gained another fifth-place finish in the 3,000-meter run (10:39.63).
Sophomores Emily Standish and Eve King competed in a number of jumping events for Yale, including the high jump, in which Standish placed seventh with a jump of 1.58 meters and King placed 12th with a height of 1.55m. King also competed in the long jump and 800-meter run. Standish competed in the triple jump with freshman Micha'le Simmons, who made her outdoor collegiate debut in the event.
Sophomore Rachel Kuschner also competed for the Bulldogs in the discus throw and the hammer throw.
Below the Mason-Dixon line, the weather was warm but high winds made the running unpredictable, and caused slower times across the board.
"We ran good times for the conditions," said senior captain Jennifer Lin. "The thunderstorm held off, but the wind would whirl around the track, making the back stretch difficult."
Friday got off to a great start in individual events for Yale when senior Bevin Peters finished third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:03.69. Freshman Anne Lovelace came in seventh (11:19.97).
"It was super windy, so a lot of the times were a lot slower than we expected," said Peters of her race and others'. "But considering the conditions I was happy."
The next big success for Yale was Kate Grace's second-place finish in the 1,500-meter run. The sophomore ran the exciting race in a personal best of 4:32.12. She was around 5th place for most of the run, until the final 200 meters when she picked up speed and picked off her opponents, beating the third-place and fourth-place finishers by only .13 and .4 seconds, respectively. Her time qualifies her for ECAC Championships in the event, and places her just over four seconds off NCAA Regional standards.
Rare for most runners, Grace not only led the distance team with her 1,500-meter run; she also anchored the sprinters in both the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays.
In individual sprints, freshman Alexa Monti ran 12.48 in the preliminary round of the 100-meter dash on Friday to get her into the finals on Saturday, where she finished seventh in a time of 12.66. In her preliminary run, Monti was .36 above ECAC qualifying standards, which she might be able to achieve in better conditions.
Other good performances included junior Claudia Duncan, who ran close to a personal best in the 800-meter run despite windy conditions with a time of 2:13.96. Captain Lin earned fifth place for Yale in her signature outdoor event, the 400-meter hurdles, in 1:04.15.
On Saturday the Colonial Relays made good on their name, and Yale lived up to it very well, in a string of strong fourth-place finishes. The women's 4x800 meter relay was the first of the day, and the Yale team (Stephany Reaves, Kathryn Schleckser, Erin Walsh and anchor Kelli Buck) came in at 9:18.57.
The Bulldogs' 4x100-meter relay team also grabbed a fourth-place finish. Monti, Duncan, Jennifer Parker and Grace passed the torch around the track in 48.29 seconds. The team qualified for ECAC championships with a time of 47.95 two weeks ago at the UCI Invitational in Irvine, Calif.
To end the day in accord with the pattern, Yale also came in fourth in the 4x400 meter relay, with a team of Duncan, Parker, Gabriella Kelly and Grace. Their time of 3:49.75 is also fast enough for ECAC standards.
Captain Jennifer Lin said that the Bulldogs were using this meet to practice the two-day format they will need to get used to for most of the rest of the season.
"We wanted to get people to practice running a second day not on fresh legs," said Lin. "Some people ran a lot better on Saturday in the relays than in their individual races. It was a pretty decent effort - everyone ran okay. People were a little tired from the long trip, and we haven't had much tapering time, since it's kind of early in the outdoor season still and we've had two weeks without a meet back to back. We can do a lot better in all races across the board."
This coming weekend the Bulldogs will compete as a whole team again in New Haven on Yale's Cuyler Field/Dwyer Track. On Friday the women will compete with Harvard against British universities Oxford and Cambridge. On Saturday Yale will compete against Ivy League rivals University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.
Report by Kyle Eichner '12, Yale Sports Publicity