Every second counts, and a single second meant win or lose for both the men’s and women’s track and field teams this weekend.

A narrow margin separated Yale and Dartmouth heading into the 400-meter relay, and only a .2-second victory in the race secured the Elis’ overall win in the first scoring meet of the season. In the day’s final event for the women, the Bulldogs needed to win the 4×400-meter relay to edge out the Big Green, but Dartmouth seized the victory by .6 seconds, leaving the Elis one point behind Dartmouth’s 68, good enough for second, 21 points ahead of Columbia.

The men headed to Hanover, N.H., hoping to extend a four-year winning streak at the annual tri-meet.

“We really wanted to compete well as a team instead of working for our own performances,” captain Dan O’Brien ’08 said. “This meet will definitely get us motivated for the season, because the results were closer than what we wanted.”

Head coach David Shoehalter said he thinks having such a competitive meet was a positive experience for the team, which was forced to handle a different type of pressure than usual.

Although the Bulldogs competed without several of their “big guns” — Victor Cheng ’08, Brandon Giles ’09, Jake Gallagher ’09, Jared Bell ’09 and Tadhg O’Callaghan ’08 — the younger runners performed well against the additional pressure, Shoehalter said.

“We had some guys sit out because of where we are in our training cycles,” he said. “But it is always encouraging to see the young guys running well. This meet left us with a good taste in our mouth.”

Yale had several strong performances before the 400-meter nail biter.

The wins in field events came from Reynolds Holmes ’10 and Samuel Fox ’09, who won the long jump and high jump, respectively.

The Elis took the top three places in the shot put, with Jeffrey Lachman ’09 launching a throw of 14.99m for the win.

O’Brien came away with top place in the 60-meter hurdles, while other first-place finishes came from Kevin Brown ’10 (4:19:73) in the mile, Remi Ray ’10 (50.20) in the 400-meter run and Marty Evans ’11 (22.57) in the 200-meter dash. Four Bulldogs competing in the 3,000-meter race captured second through fifth places, led by Chris Scavone ’11, who finished five seconds behind the leader.

But the women’s team did not have as much luck.

“It is disappointing to come out and lose by a point, but we were a little bit shorthanded,” Coach Mark Young ’68 said, referring to the unrealized injury of a key team member, whom he declined to identify.

Despite the loss, Yale earned eight first-place finishes for the day.

Lindsay Donaldson ’08 finished first in the one-mile run (4:59.94) and anchored the 4×800-meter relay, closing the gap to allow the trailing Bulldogs to pass Columbia’s and Dartmouth’s runners.

Stephanie Pearl ’10 earned the top prize for the 3,000-meter run, and Olakitan Awolesi ’08 took home first place for both the long jump and triple jump.

Rounding out the victory tally were Courtney Miller ’10 in the 200-, Mary Kuder ’08 in the 400- and Kathryn Schleckser ’09 in the 800-meter runs.

“In general, I was pretty happy,” Young said. “Our problem is that we lack depth. In the 800 we won, but Columbia got second, third and fourth, so they got more points than we did.”

Both teams will continue their seasons next weekend when they compete in Boston University’s Terrier Classic.