For the women’s indoor track and field team, which had hoped to bring home its first Ivy League title, a broken-down bus served as an apt but cruel end to the weekend.
Almost everything that could have gone wrong at the Heptagonal Games did go wrong for the Bulldogs, and the bus breakdown, which prevented a number of athletes from returning to Yale until nearly 5 a.m. Monday morning, capped a disastrous road outing. Yale placed fifth with 49 points at the championship meet, held at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. The Big Red won the Ivy title for the third straight year, holding off a strong challenge from Princeton. Brown and Penn placed third and fourth respectively.
“This weekend was extremely disappointing for all of us,” captain Lisa Wygant ’04 said. “It’s really almost embarrassing to go on talking about how we want to win, to beat Cornell, and then come in as low as fifth.”
The Elis needed to be perfect in order to have a shot at the title, and on the first day of the meet, their title hopes were dashed by a series of misfortunes. Joslyn Woodard ’06, last year’s 60-meter dash champion, was disqualified in that event after a false start in the semifinals. Minutes later, Vanessa Mazandi ’05, who had the third-best time in the 800-meter run entering the meet, had to pull out of that race and the 4×800 relay due to an injury.
“I tore a few fibers in my hamstring in the trials for the 800 and had to drop out of a race for the first time in my life,” Mazandi said.
Although most of the events’ finals were held on Sunday, the mental effects and the mathematical realities of Saturday’s results took their toll.
“I really think that the team mentally shut down after watching the disappointments on Saturday since we knew at that point that it would be nearly impossible to win without those much-needed points,” Wygant said.
There were several strong individual performances, however. Woodard bounced back from her false start to win the long jump with an Ivy League record and NCAA provisional mark of 6.27 meters.
“[Woodard’s] long jump is off the charts,” head coach Mark Young ’68 said. “Twenty minutes after being disqualified, she just launches this huge jump.”
Molly Lederman ’06 gave the Elis another victory, winning the pole vault after placing second last year at the meet. Samantha Crook of Penn took second and last year’s winner, Chelo Canino of Princeton, placed third.
On Sunday, Katrina Castille ’07 turned in the Bulldogs’ final first-place finish, edging Jan Seale of Cornell to win the 60-meter dash in a time of 7.66 seconds.
In her last indoor Heps meet, Rebecca Dickens ’04 turned in a solid performance in the 800-meter run, placing fourth with a time of 2:12.20.
Other Bulldog scorers included Cara Kiernan ’07, who placed 6th in the 5000-meter run with a time of 17:07.65 and Wygant, who placed fifth in the high jump with a height of 1.65 meters.
Young pointed out that a freshman and two sophomores turned in the three Bulldog wins — a sign that bodes well for outdoors and the future seasons. Wygant also chose to look forward.
“From here the plan is to use the disappointment of this weekend to drive us into outdoor season,” Wygant said.Ê”I know we are all extremely disappointed and angry, and we hope to use that anger to fuel us in training so that we are better prepared for outdoor Heps.”