Life without the O’Neill twins has continued for the women’s outdoors track and field team this spring. Despite losing All-American distance runners Kate O’Neill ’03 and Laura O’Neill ’03, showings from top Eli returners and freshmen at two early invitationals indicated that the Bulldogs will still be competitive in the Ivy League.
At the Raleigh Relays held at North Carolina State on March 26, five Yale distance runners got a chance to run 5,000 or 10,000-meter races against large heats of runners from top Division-I conferences.
In near-perfect early evening conditions, Cara Kiernan ’07 finished 11th out of 67 runners in the 5,000-meters. Her time of 16:43.52 was 20 seconds better than her best indoor time this winter, and qualified her for the NCAA Regionals in May.
Katie McKinstry ’07 took advantage of a rare opportunity to run in the 10,000-meters. Although Yale freshmen usually do not compete at that distance, McKinstry finished in 36:58.49, good for 10th place and a Yale freshman record.
“Cara Kiernan is our top runner in cross country and looking really good in the 5k,” distance runner Nadia Sawicki ’04 said. “Katie
McKinstry, with her great performance in the 10k, is really exciting [for the team].”
Sawicki returned from an IT-band injury that had kept her sidelined during the indoor season. She finished 56th in the 5,000-meters, while her twin sister Alex Sawicki ’04 placed 38th.
“The five of us had excellent showings this weekend,” McKinstry said. “It’s a really good indication for [the distance squad’s] season.”
Yale’s sprinters and field athletes did not travel to Raleigh, but put up strong individual performances at the University of California-Irvine Classic on March 20.
The Bulldogs came in fourth out of four teams with 122 points. Ivy League opponent Cornell, the league’s indoor champion, won the Classic with 224 points.
But for the Elis, the meet came at the end of a grueling training trip in California, during which the team’s “day off” included a 7 a.m. workout before getting to the beach.
“I was fairly pleased with the results but only in the context of a hard work period,” Yale head coach Mark Young ’68 said.
It may have been a sub-par team performance, but several Bulldogs placed high in the field and sprinting events.
Yale’s top two sprinters, Katrina Castille ’07 and Joslyn Woodard ’06, finished first and second respectively in the 100-meter dash. In the final heat, Castille finished in 12.03 seconds, with Woodard right behind at 12.14.
Castille, who came in first in the 60-meter dash at the Ivy League Heptagonals Feb. 28-29, also won the 200-meter dash at UC Irvine. Her time of 24.84 seconds was a full second improvement from her indoor best.
“We expect to have the two best short sprinters in the [Ivy] League,” Young said.
Young was also pleased with the consistency of indoor returners Molly Lederman ’06 and Lisa Wygant ’04.
Lederman came in second in the pole vault event and qualified for Regionals, while Wygant placed first in the high jump.
Although the Bulldogs did not put many points on the board in throwing events, the addition of Erica Davis ’07 may be a big help. Davis, the starting center for the women’s basketball team, competed in high school in the shot put and discus.
“[Davis] is probably accomplished enough from high school to score in discus at a league meet,” Young said.
Overall, the Bulldogs need to improve over the next six weeks before the spring Heptagonals to avoid a repeat of their disappointing
fifth-place finish at the 2004 Indoor League Championships.
“We better improve [from fifth place],” Young said. “Cornell is probably the favorite going in. We should have been able to contend for second [at the indoor Heptagonals] and should be able to contend again.”
Whether the Bulldogs can repeat their 2003 Indoor and Outdoor second-place finishes at Heps minus the O’Neill twins, will be seen when Ivy League dual meets begin in two weeks.