Track teams pick up strong times at Penn Relays

In the last weekend of competition before the two-week hiatus that precedes the Heptagonal Championship, several members of the men’s and women’s track teams had the opportunity to gauge their performances against some of the nation’s top competitors.

Relay teams and several individuals representing the Bulldogs competed in the three-day-long Penn Relays, a 114-year-old meet that has hosted competition for over 100,000 athletes in the past decade, more than any other track meet in the world. Even with such a large pool of competition, several Yale athletes earned top finishes and qualifying times for future meets.

“It was our greatest competition all season long,” Marty Evans ’11 said. “We got to compete against quality and diverse competition, competitors that we have run against before, like Georgetown and Cornell, and some we hadn’t, like Tennessee and LSU.”

Women’s captain Elizabeth Calle ’08 said the celebrated event and level of competition brought out 15,000 spectators to watch Thursday’s events.

“The level of excitement and competition is something we don’t see anywhere else,” she said. “That level of excitement is so high it gives you the extra adrenaline to compete well.”

The Eli men did indeed compete well, earning two first-place finishes with their efforts at the Relays. In the pole vault, Eric DePalo ’10 topped his flight with a height of 5.00 meters — surpassing the mark to qualify for the IC4A but missing the NCAA regional qualifying mark by five centimeters. Overall, DePalo placed fifth in the event, as only four other athletes exceeded his effort in the Championship section.

In the final day of competition in Philadelphia, the 4×800 relay team of Matt Bordoni ’08, Jake Gallagher ’09, Jared Bell ’09 and Chris Labosky ’10 earned the second victory for the Elis in the second tier of the relay. Their time of 7:31.74 placed them well above the IC4A qualifying time and would have earned a finish in the top 10 of the Championship section.

Jeffrey Lachman ’09 finished in fourth place in the Championship discus throw with a distance of 52.92 meters. Lachman’s new personal best boosted him to the No. 3 spot in the Yale record books and qualifies him to compete in the NCAA East Regional Championships at the end of next month.

Two Eli women also earned tickets to compete at the NCAA Regionals from their performances this weekend. In the 3,000-meter steeplechase Calle was significantly below the qualifying time of 10:50.25 with her time of 10:42.70 and second place section finish.

Lindsay Donaldson ’08 also finished second in her section. She lost the top spot in the 5,000-meter run championship by less than two seconds, but her time was more than 25 seconds below the regional qualifying time. At the Regional Championships last year, Donaldson earned a fifth-place finish and trip to the National Championships.

Other notable finishes at the Relays came from the women’s Distance Medley Relay team that earned fourth place in their section and from the 4×800 relay team that placed seventh in the Championship of America relay.

After three days in Philadelphia, the Bulldogs returned to New Haven for the Yale Springtime Invitational on Sunday. Although many athletes from the Relays did not compete, the Elis still put forth an impressive effort on their home turf.

On the men’s side, Murat Kayali ’09 placed first in the 800-meter run, and David Soiles ’10 returned from running twice on Friday at the Penn Relays to win the 400-meter dash. The team also racked up 14 top-five finishes during the remainder of the day.

The women were also successful in their endeavors, seeing five top finishes. Eve King ’11 won the high jump, and the 4×100-meter relay team also bested their competition. In other running events, Bevin Peters ’09, Mary Kuder ’08 and Kelli Buck ’09 all earned first place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, 800-meter run and 3,000-meter run, respectively.

Though the freshmen have dominated the Bulldogs’ top finishes in recent meets, Buck said the older girls stepped up for one last fast race before Heps.

“The freshman have been doing really well this season,” she said. “But it was our turn to do our best for the team.”

This weekend’s action wraps up the regular season for the Bulldogs, but Yale will host the battle for the Ivy League title at Dwyer Track/Cuyler Field in two weeks.

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