Eli runners impress at competitive Raleigh Relays

Facing some of its strongest competition of the year, Yale’s top track and field athletes raced at the Raleigh Relays at North Carolina State University over the weekend.

In a meet of more than 3,000 competitors, the races of All-American Kate O’Neill ’03 and sister Laura O’Neill ’03 highlighted the Bulldogs’ performance.

“This is probably the most competitive meet we run at all year,” men’s team captain Donald Carson ’02 said. “Top teams from the SEC and ACC, plus some standout programs from the Big Ten and Northeast conferences ensure a very competitive field.”

With a heightened level of competition, only the top Yale individuals — 10 men and three women — traveled to the meet. There was no team score.

On the women’s side, Kate O’Neill followed up her recent All-American performance at the Indoor NCAA Championship by winning the 5,000-meter run in a field of 114 runners. O’Neill ran a time of 16:01.09, which beat the second and third place Wolfpack runners by five and 15 seconds, respectively.

“I was excited to win, but I was more excited with my time,” Kate O’Neill said. “It was a personal record and it qualified for nationals, so that was a huge relief.”

In the 10,000-meter run, Laura O’Neill ran to a second place finish with a time of 34:21.01, which qualified her for the outdoor NCAA Championships. Cheri Kenah, a post-graduate who was running unattached, won the race with a blistering time of 33:27.68. Amanda Brewster ’03 also competed in the race, finishing 13th with a time of 37:08.80.

On the men’s side of the draw, the 4X400-meter relay squad of Carson, Phil Williams ’02, alternate Jeff Hobbs ’02, Tom Stout ’02 and Thomas Hocker ’02 ran to an Ivy League best time of 3:13.55.

“The 4X400 was an awesome race,” Hocker said. “We upset a lot of Atlantic-10 schools.”

Carson agreed with his teammate.

“The fact that we ran faster than one of our top rivals in the relay, Penn, bodes well for us come Heptagonal Championships in May,” he said.

East Carolina University finished first in the fast field. The University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania University and Virginia Tech were among the Bulldogs’ victims in the race.

Hocker’s fourth-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles was the best finish of the weekend for the Eli men. Hocker’s time of 51.59 seconds was less than four-tenths of a second behind winner Kurt Duncan, who ran unattached, and is the fastest time in the Ivy League this year.

Hocker also finished 22nd in a field of 82 in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.78 seconds.

“My 110-meter hurdle race was a little bit sloppy,” Hocker said. “But it is currently the leading time in the Ivy League.”

In the 400-meters, Carson finished 29th with a time of 48.39 seconds in a field of 139 runners.

“I felt good about my race,” Carson said. “My time wasn’t too bad, and I feel like I’ve got plenty of room to get faster by the end of the season.”

George Mason University’s Brandon Simpson won the race in a time of 46.30 seconds.

Lucas Meyer ’05 featured in the distance races for the Elis by running a Yale freshman record time in the 5,000-meters of 14:52.39, which was good for 23rd in the 126-man field. The race was Meyer’s first college 5,000-meter race.

This weekend, the Bulldogs will travel to the Colonial Invitational hosted by the College of William and Mary.

“The upcoming Colonial Invitational is in essence a simulation of the Heptagonal Championship weekend,” Carson said. “The coaching staff intends to simulate the Heps weekend by entering our athletes in multiple events on back-to-back days.”

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