With a hop, skip and a jump, the Yale men’s track team got off to a running start. In Saturday’s Lidlifter Invite at Yale, the Elis opened winter competition by dominating their opponents and winning 10 of the meet’s 18 events.
The Bulldogs were successful on all fronts, including both track and field events. First-place sprinters included Victor Cheng ’08 in the 60-meter dash (6.99), Kevin Alexander ’06 in both the 200-meter dash (22.38) and the 400-meter dash (49.00), and Dan O’Brien ’08 in the 60-meter hurdles (8.27). Matthew Boshart ’06 and Courtland Keteyian ’06 took the golds in the middle distance events, winning the 800-meter run (1:58.28) and the 1,000-meter run (2:26.67), respectively. Erik Brown ’06 clocked in at 15:06.72 in the 5,000-meter run, also good for the best finish. In the field events, Jihad Beauchman ’06 emerged victorious with 14.81 meters in the triple jump.
On top of those individual victories, two of Yale’s relay teams came home with first place. Both the ‘A’ 4 x 400-meter (3:17.11) and ‘A’ 4 by 800-meter (8:04.47) won their races against the opposition, which included the University of Alabama, Quinnipiac, Manhattan College and Southern Connecticut State University.
Members of the team said they were very pleased with their performance in their first competitive event of the year. The meet gave the team a chance to stretch their legs and assess their performance level after a long fall of training sessions.
“People are just ready to get on the track,” Keteyian said. “The meet was a measuring stick for everyone.”
Keteyian deserved to be happy. Despite having no previous experience at the 1,000-meter distance, Keteyian won with a time that would have beat last year’s Indoor Heptagonals’ champion, Sam McKenzie of Cornell, who won the 1,000 in 2:26.96.
Cheng also said the Yale invitational was a good way to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the team and gauge what they need to improve on for the next meet.
Other team members finished with strong performances for the Bulldogs. Chris Tingue ’08 earned bronze in the 400-meter dash (50.46), Shomari Taylor ’06 raced to a second place finish in the 500-meter (1:04.42) and Mark Falco ’06 followed right after teammate Keteyian for a second place finish in the 1,000-meter run (2:27.51). In the weight throw, John Langhaser ’07 and Jeff Lachman ’09 placed second and third, respectively, with throws of 14.80 meters and 14.48 meters.
The team said they hope this meet will foreshadow a successful season. Although the Bulldogs graduated an All-American and League Champ last May, Keteyian said he thinks the talent of this year’s team is extraordinarily strong.
“If you take our team and put them against anyone in the league, as far as I can tell, we have someone in every event that can win,” he said. “It’s the first time that I’ve been at Yale that we can say that.”
However, this is only the start to a long and difficult season.
“There were some great performances,” said O’Brien in an e-mail. “But the important meets are still a long way off.”
Cornell, the Indoor Heps defending champion, will prove to be tough competition once again, along with Princeton and Penn, who consistently boast strong teams.
The Bulldogs said their long-term goal is victory at the Heptagonals in late February, which would give the Elis the league title.
“If we don’t make a legitimate run, we’re going to be disappointed with ourselves,” said Keteyian.
The team has to focus on the nearer future for now, however. On Jan. 14, they return to action with the Yale Invitational, and they said they hope to continue their success.
“We’ve got a talented group of people,” Cheng said in an e-mail. “If everyone works hard and does their part, we’ll surprise some people this year.”