Coming off a restful break and with only three days to regroup, the men’s track and field team have managed a sterling start to spring competition.
The Bulldogs opened their season this Saturday as hosts of the Yale Invitational. The Elis competed against teams from around the Northeast, including intra-state rivals University of Connecticut and Sacred Heart. Although the Bulldogs did not win any event at the meet, the team had a number of top-10 performances across the board.
“It went well as far as first meets go, and it bodes well for the next few months,” Casey Moriarty ’05 said.
Russell Kempf ’07, in his first meet as a Bulldog, contributed to the strong Eli showing with his performance in the 55-meter dash. Kempf had the lead in the final heat for the first half of the race, but ended up in second place with a time of 6.57 seconds. He lost to Terry Pearson of New Jersey City University by one hundredth of a second.
“I panicked at the end of the race and I should have stayed relaxed,” Kempf said. “I am still adjusting to collegiate racing.”
Jihad Beauchman ’06 was another individual who closely missed gold and finished with silver. Beauchman came in second in the triple jump with a length of 13.88 meters. The winner, the University of Connecticut’s Mark Godoy, jumped 13.89 meters.
Beauchman said that training has progressed well over the past few months.
“This year’s strength and conditioning program for the track team has been a lot more rigorous and concentrated for each individual group of athletes than it was in the previous year,” he said.
In the other field events, Bulldogs had competitive performances. Jordan Chapman ’05 and Matt Lachman ’07 finished fifth and sixth respectively in the pole vault. John Langhauser ’07 ended up with seventh in weight throw and 10th in shot put. Derin Bray ’04 finished fifth in the high jump while Shomari Taylor ’06 finished sixth in long jump.
Yale also fielded strong relay teams at the invitational. The Eli relays finished second, third and fourth in the distance medley, a race divided into 1200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1600-meter segments. Casey Moriarty ’05, who anchored the second-place relay team, said he enjoyed competing against other Yale entries.
“We got second to Providence, but more importantly, we worked on pushing ourselves to the limit in a race,” Moriarty said. “No practice can quite simulate races so it was good to get back into competing hard.”
Moriarty was a member of the 2003 Yale cross country team that finished in third place in the Ivy League, only one year after finishing last. Moriarty said he thinks that the track team can use this as a confidence booster to improve within the League. Yale closed out the 2003 track season tied with Columbia for last place.
“We have a lot to prove and there is no reason that we can’t turn things around this year,” Moriarty said. “We are the underdogs and we like it that way.”
The 4 x 800 meter and 4 x 400 meter relays also performed well, finishing second and fifth respectively.
Captain Robert Lobue ’04 said he was not pleased with his individual performance in the 800-meter — Lobue finished 17th — but said he was happy about the way the team performed. He said many of the runners were treating the meet as a workout and trying different events.
“It’s good to see that our team can put up good stuff even though we are tired from hard training,” Lobue said. “We are putting more pressure on ourselves this year to do something good.”
Lobue also said that some of the distance runners rested this weekend in preparation for next weekend’s competition against Columbia and Dartmouth. The meet will take place at Yale on Sunday, Jan. 18.
“The meet versus Columbia and Dartmouth has generally been a close meet and it should be exciting,” Moriarty said. “We are working hard to perform well at it.”