Former Yale track star Kate O'Neill posted a time of 31:34.37 in the 10,000-meter run at Stanford's Cardinal Invitational April 30, coming in under the Olympic A Standard (31:45) and positioning herself to qualify for the Olympics this summer. O'Neill shaved 1:08 off her personal best to achieve the time, the sixth-best ever for an American in the 10K.
"Before the race, I talked with Coach [Mark] Young about the pace I should try to run," O'Neill explained. "The race is 25 laps, so we knew that if I averaged 76 seconds for each lap then I would be under the standard. I really didn't know what to expect. I thought 76 seconds might be too ambitious, but I decided that I wanted to go for it."
O'Neill was joined in the race by her twin sister Laura, also a former Bulldog. Laura finished with a time of 32:27.89. The two enjoyed support from a number of Yale fans at the Invitational.
"When I finished my race, I was incredibly happy and excited," Kate said. "The parents of two of my old teammates had come out to watch and I saw all of them right away. It was nice to see some Yalies and hear familiar voices cheering."
The sisters graduated last year with numerous honors, including being named to the 2003 Verizon Academic All-America women's cross country/track & field first team. They are the only female runners in Ivy League history to run under 16 minutes in the 5,000 meters, as well as the only ones to go below 33 minutes in the 10,000. Between them, they finished first and second in the 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 -- finishing within a second of each other in all three events. Kate was the first woman to win the 5,000 three straight times and Laura was the first do so in the 10,000.
Now, they will turn their attention to the upcoming Olympic Trials, July 9-18 in Sacramento. In order to qualify for the Olympics, Americans must have run the A Standard at some point in the previous year and a half. O'Neill's finish at the Olympic Trials will also be a factor in the selection process.
"I'm still nervous," Kate admitted. "I have a shot at making the team, but a number of other people do as well. The Trials are still two months away. Hopefully, Laura and I can both continue training well until then and run strong races at the Trials."
The O'Neills will be in the 2004 Circle of Friends New York Mini 10K June 12 in Central Park.
report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity Department