Bevin Peters ’09 said the Bulldogs approached Saturday’s Yale Invitational like it was just another practice. And given the way the women’s track team dominated the distance events, seemingly looking ahead to next weekend’s races at Dartmouth, the meet appeared to be just that — practice.

Facing a smorgasbord of major universities, small-time competitors and unknown junior college programs, the Elis continued to prepare for the season’s later events by feasting on often inferior competition.

The Invite began well for the Bulldogs. In the one mile, Peters and a pack of four teammates immediately separated from the field, building a 50-meter cushion between 5th and 6th places less than three minutes into the race. Peters won easily, cruising across the finish line in 5:08. She was trailed by Liz Calle ’08 (5:19), Katie Matlack ’08 (5:24), Jackie Myers ’07 (5:24) and Karen Porter ’07 (5:35).

Peters said the pack mentality is always useful in easing the intensity of leading a distance race.

“It was really natural for us to run in a pack because we practice together every day,” she said.

Later in the afternoon, Peters was again part of a dominating victory. The 4 x 800 squad, looking as if it was out for a casual stroll on an autumn afternoon, blew away second-place finisher Fordham. Relaxed and pleased with a chance to return to competition, the Elis won in 9:29, over 36 seconds ahead of the Rams.

Saturday marked the commencement of the winter track season for many of the distance runners. Most had skipped the Lidlifter Invite in December to rest after the pounding of cross country season. With Dartmouth and Columbia on the schedule next weekend in Hanover, the Yale Invite provided a chance to grow accustomed to the intensity required for weekly meets.

Captain and pole vaulter Molly Lederman ’06 said the early meets are necessary to build a foundation for later in the season.

“We obviously train for our Ivy League meet at the end of the season, that’s obviously the most important, but these meets aren’t any less important,” she said. “The whole season is a process.”

Although the sprinters and jumpers had already competed in December, there was still some rust. Lederman placed second, vaulting 3.65 meters. Six weeks ago, also in Coxe Cage, she had cleared 3.81 meters.

“Personally, I wasn’t that pleased,” Lederman said. “I think I can do better, but I think it is just a matter of adjusting a few things and maybe being away for so long in December.”

Several sprinters turned in characteristically strong performances, both individually and in relays. Joslyn Woodard ’06, who sat out the 60-meter hurdles and the long jump, finished second in the 60-meter dash in 7.75 seconds, improving slightly on her times from earlier in the season. Katie Dlesk ’07 placed third in the 400 with a time of 57.74, followed by Sharifa Love ’09, who was 7th in 1:00.07.

Building on the strong 400 races, the Elis dominated the 4 x 400 relay. The A team won easily in 3:55.45, and the B team finished 5th in 4:04.49.

Love, who ran on the A team, said the sprinters felt nearly everyone has improved since the Lidlifter Invite.

“I thought the 4 x 4 went well for this early in the season,” she said. “We got out there and competed, which is what this weekend was about. And we know we all have something to work on, but that is what was so good about this meet in general, being so early in the season.”

Meanwhile, several Bulldogs made impressive showings in the field events. Margo Angelopoulos ’06 finished 7th in the weight throw and 2nd in shot put, while teammate Kelley Moore ’09 placed 5th in weight throw and 6th in shot put. Dionna Thomas ’06 won the triple jump with a 11.89-meter effort. Jen Lin ’09, who was forced to run the 60 meter hurdles at the Lidlifter Invite despite lack of experience in the event, appeared back at ease in winning the pentathlon.

Lederman said the consistency shown Saturday was encouraging, especially from the team’s youngest members.

“I think our relays looked really good, we’re very excited about them, and they have a lot of potential,” she said. “And overall I feel like we did pretty well, especially after being away for so long. I think it was indicative of the strength of our team and especially of the strength of the freshman class.”