For any other student, taking Friday off means starting the weekend’s festivities early. For the Yale men’s track and field team, however, it means focusing on succeeding at what they do best — running, throwing and jumping.
After two weekends of competing on their home track, the Bulldogs travel to the University of Rhode Island Friday for the URI Invitational. The Elis will be competing against area teams such as the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac as well as the University of Pennsylvania. According to Yale head coach David Shoehalter, the squad will have a slightly different focus for this weekend’s meet. Instead of concentrating on the team score, the Bulldogs will turn their attention to improving individual performances. Only a part of the full roster will travel to Providence while the rest remain to train at home.
“Most of our middle distance and distance runners will be staying back and training in New Haven,” Shoehalter said. “Our sprinters, jumpers, hurdlers and throwers will all be competing this weekend. We feel that they’ll benefit by getting into competitive meet situations as much as possible.”
Shoehalter also said he feels encouraged by the Bulldogs’ performance against Columbia and Dartmouth last weekend.
“We’ve still got a long way to go in terms of fitness and ‘meet readiness’ but it was a pretty strong early season showing,” Shoehalter said.
Derin Bray ’04, one of the Bulldog veterans, will be competing at this weekend’s invitational in the high jump. Although he said that the indoor season is rough, he said he is glad for the opportunity to jump.
“Invitationals are strange and UConn and Penn will be a challenge, but it’s a good chance to see what we have and gain some experience,” Bray said.
Bray placed 5th at the Yale Invitational with a height of 1.86 meters and improved to third place last weekend against Dartmouth and Columbia with a height of 1.91 meters. With these heights, he will be in competition with Daniel Hutcherson and Will Thomas of UConn for the top places at the URI Invitational.
Another Bulldog who will be in scoring position is Russell Kempf ’07. Last weekend, Kempf won the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.61 seconds. Although Kempf will not be competing in the 55-meter dash on Friday, he is still one of the fastest Elis and will be running in the 200-meter dash as well as the 4 x 400-meter relay.
“I have never run the 200, but I am optimistic,” Kempf said. “I am just going to go out and run.”
Kempf, a freshman, said he is already running times that are better than those he ran during high school.
“Supposedly at this point in the training, you should not feel good, but I feel alright now,” Kempf said. “Hopefully my times will keep dropping.”
Another hope for the Bulldogs is Jihad Beauchman ’06, the team’s best triple jumper. Beauchman jumped 13.77 meters last weekend, good for third place.
After focusing on individual performances this weekend, the whole team will be back together for two different meets in Boston — the Husky Invitational on Jan. 30-31 and the Terrier Classic on Jan. 31.
But right now the Elis are simply focused on getting better scores and times on Friday.
“Our hope is that every athlete who competes this weekend performs better than they did the week before,” Shoehalter said.