The men’s and women’s indoor track teams may not have been top dogs at the Heptagonal Championships this weekend against heavyweights Princeton and Cornell, but the Bulldogs fought to make every point count in several close individual events.
At the Ivy League Championship in Ithaca, N.Y., the Eli men took third place with 58 points, compared to Cornell’s 205 and Princeton’s 149, while the women ended with 36 points, earning seventh place in a meet the Tigers won with 114 points. Lindsay Donaldson ’08 was the only Eli to win an event, taking first in the 3,000-meter run for the second year in a row.
“We are thrilled; third was pretty much what we were shooting for,” said men’s captain Dan O’Brien ’08, who earned third place in the 60-meter hurdles. “There was no way we were going to beat Cornell and Princeton this year, so we are ecstatic with the results. This is what we work for all year.”
Although the Bulldogs could not trump the Tigers and Big Red overall, several team members delivered top performances against their Ancient Eight rivals.
Eric DePalo ’10 nearly earned a first-place finish in the pole vault with a tie of his season best of 5.00 meters. Cornell’s Joshua Kirkpatrick had the same mark, but because he had fewer misses at the previous height, Kirkpatrick won top honors for the event, with DePalo settling for second. The 5.00-meter height set the Ivy League record for the season.
Jake Gallagher ’09 finished out the first day of competition with third place in the 3,000-meter run. In the front of the slow-starting pack of 25, Gallagher needed one more second for a victory, finishing with a time of 8:32.48, behind Michael Maag of Princeton, who came in at 8:31.59.
“It was a pretty strong race,” Gallagher said. “At these championship races, you go out slow and finish fast. I was hoping to challenge more for the lead, but I’m definitely not complaining about third.”
In another near win for the Bulldogs, Victor Cheng ’08 took second place for the 60-meter dash with his time of 6:91. He fell behind Jordan Lester of Cornell by 0.04 seconds, although Cheng had bested Lester by one-tenth of a second in the preliminaries the day before.
Unlike the season’s previous scored meets, which counted only the top four finishers, Heps gives team points to the top six in each event, with first place earning 10 points, second earning eight, third earning six, fourth earning four, fifth earning two and sixth earning one.
In the field events, Jeffrey Lachman ’09 threw his way up to No. 6 on Yale’s all-time indoor rankings with his weight throw of 18.14 meters, earning a fourth-place finish. Reynold Holmes ’10 also earned a fourth-place finish for his long jump of 7.12 meters.
Other points came from Chris Labosky ’10, with a fifth-place finish in the 1,000-meter run, and Jared Bell ’09 and Kevin Brown ’10, with fifth- and sixth-place finishes, respectively, in the mile run.
“The whole event came down to the end because it was a very close meet for us,” O’Brien said. “We had to get fifth and sixth in the mile. It just goes to show how every point matters.”
The Bulldogs only finished eight points ahead of Dartmouth’s 50-point total.
The women’s team did not have as strong a finish as the men, but Erika Mansson ’11 focused on the notable individual performances.
“We are a very strong group, and the results didn’t really show that,” said Mansson, who ran in the 4×400-meter relay. “But we had some really strong performances, and we were definitely happy with those.”
Donaldson and Olakitan Awolesi ’08 were the source of the majority of Eli points this weekend. Donaldson won the 3,000-meter run for the second year in a row with a time of 9:42.62 and earned second place in the 5,000-meter run. Awolesi had another second-place finish for her performance in the long jump.
The Bulldogs also fared well in the relay events, earning third place in the 4×400-meter relay and fifth in the 4×800.
Members of both the men’s and women’s teams who qualified for the IC4A and ECAC Championships during the indoor season will travel to Boston next weekend to face regional competition.
“This weekend was really something we wanted to focus on as a team,” Mansson said. “Next weekend, we just want to maintain our speed, because we are really looking forward to the outdoor season.”