Bill Cosby may have been at the DeWitt-Cuyler Track Saturday, but it was the on-track performances that stole the show.
Cosby, who sported a Yale football jacket and track hat, was the honorary official starter for the biannual Oxford/Cambridge vs. Harvard/Yale meet. The Yale/Harvard men bested their English foes 10-9, and the women cruised to a 13-4 victory to sweep the event.
The event, which began in 1899, is unique in many ways, but one of its principal distinctions is that it puts the Elis and the Crimson on the same team.
“We always want to make sure we win, but we face Harvard next week,” women’s head coach Mark Young said.
Young was quick to point out that even though Yale and Harvard were on the same side this past weekend, there will be no intensity lost when the two rivals meet this Saturday.
He added that through the Oxford/Cambridge meet, many of the Yale players became friends with the Crimson and vice-versa.
“You compete hardest against your friends,” Young said. “Neither side will have any trouble on Saturday getting pumped up. We beat them last year in both the men’s and women’s meets by narrow margins — they will be looking for revenge, and we will be out to stop them from getting it.”
Unlike other track events, which award points for runner-up finishes as well as victories, the Yale/Harvard vs. Oxford/Cambridge meet only awarded one point to the winner of each event.
Of the 10 Yale/Harvard wins on the men’s side, the Crimson had six individual winners, the Bulldogs captured three events, and representatives of both schools combined to win the 4×400 relay.
Ryan Barrows ’01 blistered past the competition in the 800-meter run, and his time of 1:52.45 was 1.48 seconds faster than his nearest competitor. But despite bright sunshine and mild temperatures, Barrows said the wind made the conditions far from ideal.
“It was a tough day for most races since it was so windy, but overall I was pleased with my performance,” Barrows said. “We saw where we are strong and know a few areas where we need to improve as well.”
Joel Montgomery ’01 posted a time of 14.99 seconds to win the 110-meter high hurdles, and William Wicker ’04 won the long jump with a distance of 6.73 meters.
For the women, Yale posted six individual victories to Harvard’s five, and Yale/Harvard squads won both the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays.
Sikira Backus ’02 and Yetsa Tuakli-Wosornu ’01 dominated the 100-meter dash, finishing with times of 12.18 and 12.27 seconds, respectively. Jennifer Newsom ’01 won the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.44 seconds, and fellow Bulldog Ayodope Anise ’01 came home second. Anise also finished second in the 400-meter dash, while Anika Kreider ’03 posted another Yale victory with a time of 58.25 seconds.
Emily Estey ’01 won the 800-meter run in a time of 2:15.39, and Jessica Thomas ’02 captured the top spot in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles, with a time of 1:02.99. Melanie Harris ’01 won the hammer throw convincingly with a distance of 49.22 meters.
The Yale threesome of Newsom, Anise, Tuakli-Wosornu, along with Cantab Brenda Taylor won the 4×100 meter relay in a time of 47.81 seconds. Thomas and Kreider combined with two Crimson runners to win the 4×400 meter relay, with a winning time of 3:56.59 — nearly 14 seconds faster than the Oxford/Cambridge team.
“It was a big day for us for a lot of reasons,” Young said. “In addition to the meet held here at Yale, we had some competitors at the Columbia Invitationals.”
Logistically, not everyone could compete at the event with their British rivals, so Yale sent some athletes to the Columbia event.
Standout performances at Columbia included a sweep of the top two spots in the women’s 5,000 meter run, with Katherine LaFrance ’01 and Amanda Brewster ’02 finishing first and second, respectively. Young was also impressed by the solid performances from Lesley Colgan ’02 and Rebecca Dickens ’04, who finished 10th and 11th out of 37, respectively in the 800-meter run. Rebecca Hunter ’04 finished sixth out of 33 in the 1,500-meter run.
Those who did get to compete in the home meet against Oxford and Cambridge were very appreciative for what many called the chance of a lifetime.
“It was very exciting,” Barrows said. “It was very special to be part of a tradition that has gone on for over a century between the four finest academic institutions in the world. It’s not something many people get to do.”
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