In front of crowds as large as 50,000, the members of the men’s and women’s track teams competed against the nation’s finest at Penn Relays. Held at Franklin Field in Philadelphia April 25-27, the meet is regarded as the largest track competition in the world.
“Penn Relays is always a fun meet,” Laura O’Neill ’03 said. “There are hundreds of high school runners, college runners, and elite athletes.”
The Bulldogs distanced themselves from the rest of the collegiate pack with top finishes on the track. One of the most praise-worthy performances was Laura O’Neill’s second place time of 33:39.14 in the 10,000 meters championship, which automatically qualified her for the same event at the NCAAs.
“My sister Kate offered to run the first 17 [out of 25] laps of the race to pace me,” O’Neill said. “Having her there helped a lot.”
The women’s squad was solid in other events as well. Kate O’Neill’s strong leg on the distance medley relay helped Yale claim second place. In the 4X800m relay, the women came in seventh out of a field of 30 teams.
“While our 4X800 finish in the Penn Relays was certainly respectable, we are looking forward to shaving several seconds off our time for Heps in two weeks,” Rebecca Hunter ’04 said.
The Eli men complemented the strong showing by the women with four top ten finishes. Lucas Meyers was impressive in the 5,000 meters, finishing with a time of 14:31.07, which was good for sixth place. Meyers broke his own freshman record by 20 seconds.
“I wanted to run faster, but it was a big improvement over my last 5,000, so I was happy,” he said.
Thomas Hocker ’02, winner of the Churchill Scholarship, cruised to an eighth place finish in the 400 meter hurdles. Hocker was also a member of the fourth place 4X400 m team along with Tom Stout, Jeff Hobbes and Don Carson.
While the Bulldogs were aided by pleasant running conditions at Franklin Field, the same could not be said of the weather at Sunday’s Yale Invitational at Dewitt-Cuyler Field.
“The conditions were terrible,” Nathan Lawrie ’04 said. “It was raining and cold all day.”
Despite the damp and dreary atmosphere, Lawrie finished third in shot put and second in the discus. Contributing to the men’s excellent showing in the field events was Jordan Chapman ’05, who recorded a win in the pole vault and claimed second in the high jump.
Kyle Hilgendorf ’05 won the 1,500 meters, the men’s sole first place finish on the track.
The women were solid all around, notching several top ten finishes with gritty performances. Noel Beagle won the 800 meters with ease, while sisters Alex Sawicki ’03 and Nadia Sawicki ’04 took the top two spots, respectively, in the 5,000 meters.
“I didn’t have a lot of adrenaline because there weren’t many people competing,” Alex Sawicki said. “But my time [17:30.80] was a personal record by 15 seconds.”
Yale also held a stronghold in the 3,000 meter steeplechase with runners Anne Martin ’05 and Lindsay Mitchell ’03 claiming first and second places respectively.
In the field events, Lisa Wygant ’04 and Lisa LeCointe ’03 were a dominating duo, earning four top ten finishes collectively.
The Bulldogs are now concentrating their efforts on the Heptagonal Championships to be held at the Naval Academy in Anapolis, May 11-12. After their competitive effort at the Penn Relays and Yale Invitational, both teams are confident they will fare well against their league rivals.