Elis look powerful at Relays

The men’s and women’s track teams both came away from the Penn Relays this weekend with solid performances and plenty of valuable preparation for the Ivy League Championship, which begins at the end of this week.

Saturday marked the final day of the three-day event at Penn, which has taken place at Philadelphia’s historic Franklin Field every April since 1895. The women’s team performed fairly well, snagging ninth place in the 4×800-meter relay with a time of 9:06. The men’s team was slightly happier with its results in the last event, coming in fourth with a time of 7:33, the 13th fastest finish in Yale history.

Runners on both teams emphasized the thrill of competing at the Penn Relays. Large crowds, a big venue and teams from all over the country made the event one of the most exciting of the season.

“There’s no atmosphere like the Penn Relays,” Brian Gertzen ’07 said. “It’s a really great place to run.”

The men’s team clocked in strong performances throughout the three-day affair. Gertzen, along with Matthew Bordoni ’08, Chris Smitson ’08 and Jared Bell ’09, made up the men’s relay team that competed in Saturday’s 4×800. According to the team members, Saturday’s weather was clear and cool — perfect conditions for running.

But Friday’s weather was less ideal. Heavy rains delayed the start of the distance medley relays and got some of the runners soaking wet. The rains cleared by the afternoon, and the men’s team came away with third in the second section of the distance medley relays.

“We went in looking to throw down a really good time,” said Jake Gallagher ’09, one of the members of Friday’s men’s team. “We would have liked to have run faster, but everyone was pleased with their effort.”

The men’s team kicked off the Relays with a strong start Thursday, as Joseph Kingsbery ’08 finished third in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:06. Other highlights included a fifth-place distance of 17.11 meters by John Langhauser ’07 in the shot put and a seventh-place finish by Eric DePalo ’10 (4.60 meters) in the pole vault.

One of the most valuable aspects of the meet was the practice it offered for the Ivy League Championship, which is coming up next weekend at Princeton. The Penn Relays attracted top Division I schools from all over the nation, giving the Bulldogs the opportunity to scope out next weekend’s competition. And in front of a crowd of more than 40,000 fans, the energy was running high.

“Penn is different from other meets because there are so many people there,” Stephany Reaves ’10 said, “There’s so much going on in such a large venue. It’s intense.”

The women’s team performed fairly well, but their strength was really with a few standout athletes. Reaves was part of the women’s 4×800 relay team, which also included Kathryn Schleckser ’10, Kelli Buck ’09 and Meredith Leenhouts ’08. The team members were pleased with their Saturday effort but said they definitely had room for improvement.

“Our performance was solid, but not spectacular,” Buck said, “It’s something to build on.”

Both Buck and Reaves cited Lindsay Donaldson ’08 as the women’s standout runner of the weekend. Donaldson ran the 5-kilometer event in 16:17, finishing in second place.

Erica Davis ’07 also stood out with a 10th-place toss of 44.96 meters in the discus event and a fifth-place shot put throw of 13.85 meters.

In such a large venue, members of both teams had to spend time idling in paddock areas as they waited to race. One of the biggest challenges they faced was remaining loose before they were called to compete.

On Sunday, after the Penn Relays, both teams competed in a small meet at Yale with several local schools. According to Katie Dlesk ’07, the women’s captain, the purpose of this event was largely to get some times in before the Ivy League Championship.

“We did fairly well,” she said. “It was mostly a mixed bag.”

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