For the members of the men’s track and field team, the question on everyone’s mind was how to go from the bottom half of the Ivy League into the top half at the Heptagonal Championships. The answer, as it turned out, was teamwork.
After finishing in seventh last year at the Indoor Heps, the Bulldogs scored 76 points as a team to finish in fourth, only five points behind third-place Penn. In terms of place finished and points scored, it was the Elis’ best performance since 1991. Cornell and Princeton, the perennial favorites, dominated the meet, finishing in first and second, respectively. Although the Elis had only one individual winner, Luke Meyer ’05, the points they picked up across the board were enough to vault them out of the basement of the Ancient Eight.
“The guys really became a program [Sunday], and it was an incredible thing to see,” Yale head coach Dave Shoehalter said. “The support they were giving each other was as loud as we’ve ever been in support. Guys felt like they were running for more than just themselves, for something bigger than themselves, and that’s what we strive for.”
Meyer, who won the 5,000-meter run with a time of 14:20.93, said the team as a whole benefited from several strong individual performances, especially from the freshmen.
“It was all little points here and there,” Meyer said. “The freshmen did great too, [Victor] Cheng [’08], [Brandon] Giles [’08], and [Daniel] O’Brien [’08], those were huge. Reed Mauser [’06] also stepped up big time to finish fourth in the 1,000 [meter run].”
The Eli freshmen had a great weekend in the sprints, with Cheng finishing fifth with a 6.98 and Giles finishing second with a 6.84 in the 60-meter dash. O’Brien clocked in at 8.23 seconds to finish third in the 60-meter high hurdles.
“It was really exciting, the team got real loud, and it got us all pumped up,” Giles said. “It felt like a real team. It was good to show that we aren’t seventh place. We’re going to be good and we want to be able to hang with the Cornells and the Princetons.”
Kevin Alexander ’06 gave the Elis a boost with his third-place finish of 48.68 seconds in the 400-meter dash. Alexander said scoring for the first time as an individual meant a lot to him as one of the upperclassmen on the team.
“Since I’m a junior, I feel that I’m expected to contribute a decent part of the points,” Alexander said. “It was definitely a team effort. I think this team realizes each individual effort does contribute greatly to the good of team, and it seemed like we are more confident that we can get the job done.”
In the field events, Jihad Beauchman ’06 and Matt Lachman ’06 accomplished what they needed to by securing some points for the Bulldogs. Beauchman jumped 2.09 meters in the high jump and 15.35 meters in the triple jump, good for fifth and second, respectively. Lachman cleared 4.65 meters in the pole vault to earn a fifth place finish as well.
Both the distance medley relay team and the 4 x 800-meter relay team finished third and the 4 x 400-meter relay team came in second, adding 20 points altogether to the Yale score.
“One of the things about this sport is you are always looking to the next time, so it was a great way to finish it out by putting great relay teams out there,” Shoehalter said.
Because it was the best the team had finished since 1991 and because it was such a team effort, captain Casey Moriarty ’05 said this weekend’s result was a turning point for the Bulldogs.
“I have never been as proud of being a part of Yale track and field as I am now,” Moriarty said. “This program has taken off, and its so gratifying for us seniors to see what has happened. To be in the top half after finishing in the bottom for so long points to hard work and perseverance. I’m really proud of everybody.”