NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Concluding the regular season each ranked in the top 48 for their respective events, a group of four runners on the Yale women's track and field team is officially set to compete in the East Preliminary Round of the NCAA Track and Field Championships this week. While this marks the second trip to regionals for senior veteran Andrea Masterson, this is the first time qualifying for Jocelyn Chau, Kayley DeLay and Samantha Friborg.
"We are definitely heading in a positive direction," Mark T. Young '68 Director of Cross Country and Track and Field David Shoehalter said. "Our women have improved a good deal and I am excited about the four women competing in Jacksonville."
Competing first for the women in the 1,500 meters is Chau. The Ontario native is set to race at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday evening in the first of two potential rounds of 1500 meter qualifiers. Thursday's event consists of four rounds of 12 competitors each. To qualify, Chau will need to finish in the top five in her heat or register one of the next four fastest times overall. Chau's current best time of 4:19.07 is one of just 20 under the impressive 4:20 benchmark, and ranks her 18th overall in the field of 48.
In the 800 meters, Friborg will be in a similar situation, as she competes in one of six heats with eight women per heat. The three fastest times from each heat automatically advance to the next round followed by the next six fastest overall times. With seed times ranging from 2:03.13 to 2:07.67, the race will test the first-year's speed and endurance, potentially going out fast in the first 400 meters with women trying to secure an overall qualifying time in the event of finishing outside of their race's top five. The 800 meters goes off at 8:10 p.m. for the women and is followed by the men's races of the same event. For both Chau and Friborg familiarity racing in prelims and finals throughout the indoor and outdoor championship seasons will serve them well in Jacksonville, where they are among the top competitors in the east.
"It's important that our women know that they can race with anyone and that they put themselves in positions to be near the front when the races begin to move," Shoehalter said.
Capping off Thursday's races for the Bulldogs will be Masterson. With no prelims and finals due to the extended length of her event, Masterson will look to finish in the top 12 out of the 48 person field in order to advance to the 10,000 meter finals at the NCAA National Championships held in Austin, Texas, in two weeks. The stacked 10K race will begin at 9:00 p.m. as the final event of the night on Thursday. Having raced at regionals last year, competed at cross country nationals, and raced an early season 10,000 in a competitive field at the Raleigh Relays, Masterson boasts plenty of experience in top-tier distance races and is ranked right in the middle of her field.
Currently, DeLay is Yale's sole competitor set to race on Friday as she takes on the 3,000 meter steeplechase at 8:20 p.m. Ranked 14th heading into the race, she will be placed in one of three heats each consisting of 16 competitors. To advance to nationals, the sophomore from Jacksonville will need to finish in the top three of her heat or secure one of the next fastest three times overall. One of the biggest hurdles for DeLay will likely be the large size of each heat. However despite similar challenges of a crowded race two weeks ago at the Ivy League Outdoor Championships, DeLay thrived: she remained patient for the first few laps before ultimately making her move to the front of the pack for a second-place finish.
"I think the most important thing is to have confidence and know that all the hard work has already been put in – so just enjoy competing now," DeLay said. "Going to race at home is so exciting, I think since I don't have any crazy expectations, I don't feel too much pressure and am just looking forward to seeing my friends and family."
Jocelyn Chau, 1,500 meters
- Thursday, 5:30 p.m. First Round
- Saturday, 6:30 p.m. Quarterfinals
Kayley DeLay, 3,000 meter Steeplechase
- Friday, 8:20 p.m. Quarterfinals
Samantha Friborg, 800 meters
- Thursday, 8:10 p.m. First Round
- Friday, 6:30 p.m. Quarterfinals
Andrea Masterson, 10,000 meters
- Thursday, 9:00 p.m. Semifinals