An Ivy League win is an Ivy League win, no matter what point in the season it may be.
With that in mind, the women’s track team won seven events and scored 70 points in Hanover, N.H., to defeat Dartmouth and Columbia, who scored 57 and 54 points, respectively. Despite a week of hard training leading up to the meet and a mental approach that discouraged high expectations, the Bulldogs excelled against the pair of familiar foes.
Joslyn Woodard ’06 led the way, as always. She edged out teammate Katrina Castille ’07 in the 60-meter dash, winning in 7.80 seconds. Next, Woodard cruised across the finish line in the 200 in 25.62. And to cap off the afternoon, the defending Ivy League champion in three events trounced the competition in the long jump. Woodard’s jump of 5.89 meters easily bested the 5.35-meter effort of teammate Ola Awolesi ’08.
Bevin Peters ’09 said the team feels a sense of security in knowing Woodard will perform well every week, but she said the team is aware that consistent scorers are needed to fill in behind the senior star.
“It’s great to see how she focuses and how she performs so well,” Peters said. “But we really try not to rely on her too much.”
At least this weekend, it appeared that the rest of the Elis were willing to pick up where Woodard left off. Dionna Thomas ’06 won the triple jump with a leap of 11.89 meters, and captain Molly Lederman ’06 continued her dominance of Ancient Eight pole-vaulting with a victorious mark of 3.85 meters, her best of the young season. Finally, thrower Margo Angelopoulos ’06 claimed second-place finishes in both the shot put and weight throw, each time losing to the Big Green’s Jamila Smith.
A pair of distance runners, one veteran and one newcomer, rounded out the major scoring for the Bulldogs. Lindsay Donaldson ’08 is used to leading the pack, and her comfort with that position was obvious this weekend. She won in 4:58.11 with a corps of freshman Elis not far behind. Kat Schleckser ’09 finished third (5:07.03), followed by Kelli Buck ’09 (fourth, 5:07.85) and Peters (fifth, 5:08.61).
Following the meet, Yale head coach Mark Young reiterated the importance of those third- and fourth-place finishers who steal seemingly paltry points from the opposition — points that quickly add up to be the difference between a two-point loss and a convincing 13-point victory. Kristen Farley ’09 said the advice hit home after key points in the 1,000-meter run and the mile run helped secure the win.
“Liz Calle’s [’08] fourth-place finish in the 1,000 was really important for us,” she said. “Those points are the most important.”
Farley put on a superb performance in the 1,000. Her time of 2:54.49 was nearly 4 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Hilary Bontz of Columbia.
Afterward, Farley said she was most pleased with the team’s ability to perform well across the board, both in a variety of events and within the scoring slots of nearly every event. She said the event was most important as a gauge of the competition and the team’s standing as it gears up for the Heptagonal Championships in five weeks.
“You definitely want to make sure you stay healthy,” Farley said. “But overall we wanted to compete and see where everyone’s at. I think we did that and ran great considering we’d had such a hard week of practice. Most important, we need to have depth, because if you don’t have that depth, you can’t win championships.”
Lederman said the information gained Saturday will help the Elis prepare for the season’s climax. Next Saturday’s trip to Boston for the Terrier Classic will continue the trend of midseason preparation.
“This past weekend gave us a preliminary sense of where we stand in the league,” Lederman said. “Though excited to come away with a victory, we acknowledge that the meet against Dartmouth and Columbia served to provide us with important constructive feedback in terms of what we need to work on and where we need to go from here.”
Coaches had shown little mercy in the week of hard training leading up to the race. Much of the same training will likely consume the coming week. Since it is so early in the season, the team is concentrating more on conditioning than on maintaining current times. A few weeks from now, when the specter of Heps looms large, the Bulldogs will get their chance to rest.
In the meantime, the Bulldogs will train in hopes of finally dethroning four-time reigning indoor champion Cornell and avenging last season’s second-place finish.
“There’s never been a doubt in my mind,” Peters said, “because when I got here everyone was already excited about winning a championship.”