Much to its surprise, the women’s outdoor track team soared to first place at the 41st Annual William and Mary Colonial Relays this weekend.
“The [team] win was sort of unexpected,” Katrina Svoboda ’05 said. “No one was really paying attention to the totals, so it was a pleasant surprise.”
Receiving hefty contributions from all — distance runners, sprinters, field athletes and relay teams — Yale tallied 131 points to take the gold. The host, William and Mary, emerged from fifth place after the first day to finish second out of the 18-team field, more than 20 points behind Yale.
“I don’t know if we were favored to win,” Rebecca Dickens ’04 said. “We were using this meet more as practice for later in the season, so everyone ran more events than they normally would.”
Top individual performers for the Bulldogs included Dickens, a veteran middle-distance runner and Molly Lederman ’06, a pole vaulter.
Held at the Zable Stadium in Williamsburg, Va., the two-day contest includes a high school division and featured 3,000 athletes representing teams from the East Coast. The top eight performers in each of the 25 events were awarded points, with the exception that only two athletes from each college would be given points in any one event, effectively preventing a college specializing in one area from monopolizing the leaderboard.
Though it was not Yale’s primary intent to finish atop the overall standings, the strength of the Eli squad in an array of events gave them the victory.
“[Track and field] is not like soccer or other team sports where a teammate is there to receive a direct pass from you, relays aside of course,” Lederman said. “In track, everyone goes out there on their own and has to put in 100 percent when it’s their time to compete.”
With a similar mentality, Dickens ran to the head of the pack in the 800 meter run, finishing in 2:11.182, while teammate Katie Greene ’06 placed fifth.
“I was actually in second place for the first 300 meters, but it seemed a little bit slow so I led the rest of the race,” Dickens said. “It wasn’t a personal record, but it was a pretty good time for me especially this early in the season.”
Bulldog pairs also had a solid showing in other races. Laura O’Neill ’03 took second place with 4:32.99 and Rebecca Hunter ’04 captured fourth in the 1500-meter run. Lindsay Mitchell ’03 and Anne Martin ’05 took second and fifth, respectively in the 3000-meter steeplechase.
On the sprinting front, Aisha Cort ’05 placed fifth and 12th in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, respectively.
The Bulldog freshmen dominated the field events. On the pole vault, competing amidst inclement weather, Lederman cleared 11 feet 6 inches and jumped to an event-winning 12-feet 4-inches.
“I stepped on the runway to take my first jump and it just started raining,” she said. “They had to delay it for about 40 minutes before it cleared up.”
Another rookie phenom, Joslyn Woodard ’06, leaped to a silver finish in the long jump with 19-feet 2.75-inches, while Dionna Thomas ’06 took third place in the triple jump with 37-feet 8.75-inches.
The relay squads were equal contributors to the team win as well. The 800-meter relay squad cruised into third place at the meet with 1:40.20, setting a new Yale record in the process. As expected, the distance medley relay squad captured first with a time of 11:47.81.
Competing in warmer climes for the past two weeks has helped the Bulldogs run fast times and prepare for this weekend’s outdoor season home opener against Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.
“Unfortunately, we had to train on the indoor track today because of the weather. It’s pretty crummy to come back and train in the snow, but we are looking forward to playing at home,” Svoboda said.