The Bulldog women stumbled and the men picked up a second wind as the spring track season entered the home stretch.
The Eli men faced strong winds and generally weak competition at Brown on Saturday, taking top spots in numerous events one week before the team travels north to face off with rival Harvard in the annual Harvard-Yale meet. Athletes from Harvard, UConn, Southern Connecticut and host Brown made up a field only half the size of last year’s Brown Invite. With 29 mph headwinds blasting down the track, the sprinters especially felt the brunt of a blustery spring day.
Victor Cheng ’08 led a strong Yale performance by winning the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes with times of 11.11 and 22.61, respectively.
David Soiles ’10 finished fourth in the 200, and said the team strove to perform at its best despite the slim field. He said the heavy wind, which changed the dynamic of the race and slowed sprint times, was Saturday’s toughest competitor.
“It was a mental test,” he said. “If you can mentally overcome the fact that there’s a headwind, you’ll race fine, you’ll race through it. If you’re thinking about it, it will slow you down.”
Other Eli highlights included Dan O’Brien’s ’08 field-beating 15.66 in the 110-meter hurdles, Samuel Fox’s ’09 first-place high jump of 1.99 meters, and Jeff Lachman’s ’09 overpowering discus throw of 48.90 meters.
Fox said he was pleased with his victory in the high jump, albeit at a height which he described as “not exactly fantastic.”
In relay competition, Yale came out on top in both the 4×100 and 4×400 relays, finishing with times of 41.96 and 3:19.96, respectively. Yale’s “B” team had a banner day as well, running strong enough to finish third in both relays, topping Brown in the 4×100 and falling to Harvard’s “A” squad in the 4×400 by only 0.58 seconds.
The women finished third at the annual Penn-Princeton-Yale meet in New Jersey, taking home a disappointing 54 points. But the last-place finish in the three-team meet was brightened by the performances of several individuals, especially Erica Davis ’07 and Elizabeth Calle ’08. Both qualified for the NCAA Regional tournament in Gainesville, Fla., on May 25.
Davis contributed 10 of the Elis’ points with wins in discus (48.93 meters), in which she qualfied for Regionals, and shot put (13.86 meters).
Calle raced a 10:48.45 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase to earn her first NCAA Regional tournament spot. Calle said that although she was excited by her own performance, she wished the team result could have turned out differently.
“Penn and Princeton obviously did a really good job,” she said. “[Yale’s effort] just wasn’t enough to overcome the depth they had.”
Yale had a strong presence in the sprints, with Katrina Castille ’07 and Catherine Bader ’08 taking first and fourth in the 100-meter dash, with times of 12.39 and 12.82, respectively. Castille’s success carried over into the 200- meter, where she picked up second place with a 25.15 finish.
Hurdlers Katherine Dlesk ’07 and Jennifer Lin ’09 added a combined five points to Yale’s total with their second and third-place finishes in the 400-meter hurdles.
Kristin Baxivanos ’10, who finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles, said that considering the competition and the cold weather, she thought the team did well, especially in the running events.
Unfortunately, Yale’s strength on the track did not carry over to field events, which were dominated by the Princeton and Pennsylvania squads. Davis’ twin victories covered up what has been a season-long weakness for the Bulldogs in the field events, where a lack of depth has hurt the team.
“We don’t have all the bases covered,” Baxivanos said. “We expect to lose a few points there.”
Both teams say they plan to step up the intensity in next week’s rivalry bout, the much-anticipated Harvard-Yale competition.