Yale distance runner Kevin Dooney ’16 ran his way onto the Eli record books on Sunday at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. Dooney’s time of 13:59.06 in the 5,000-meter race broke the Yale indoor record by nearly 11 seconds, and his own personal record, which he set outdoors last spring, by 27 seconds. He placed third in the race, less than half of a second behind the winner, and was one of five Bulldogs to score in the meet. The Yale men’s team finished eighth overall at Heps, but its score of 24 points was its best at the event in three years.
Q: Twenty-seven seconds is a pretty enormous difference [between your new and old personal records]. Were you expecting to beat your P.R. by so much?
A: Given the cross country season that I had, I definitely knew that I was in better shape than I was when I ran my P.R. last year, but I did not expect 27 seconds. I thought that I could maybe run 14:10, but the 10 seconds beyond that were not what I was expecting.
Q: Do you think the two runners ahead of you had an impact on that time?
A: Definitely. Harvard went into the race trying to get one of [its] runners a qualifying time for nationals, and [Harvard] really made it a fast race. I’m thankful for that because it gave me a chance to run fast.
Q: You ran in the 10,000-meter event last spring. Does this performance affect which event you’ll do this year?
A: Not really. I still think that at heart, I’m going to be a better 10k runner than I am a 5k runner. [My 5k time] bodes well for the future in the 10k, but I think I’ll still take the 10k race.
Q: The top four finishers in the 5,000-meter beat the winning time from last year. Are the Ivy League’s distance standards improving?
A: I think the standards are always improving. The top four finishers in the mile on Sunday all qualified for nationals. A quarter of the field in the mile will probably be from the Ivy League, which is pretty impressive in a national meet. Last year was a bit of a slower, more tactical race, but the standards in the league are definitely getting better when you look at it. Maksim Korolev [the second-place finisher in the 5k Sunday] from Harvard came in third in cross country nationals this year, so they’re definitely getting better.
Q: Other than your performance, what other highlights were there for Yale in the meet?
A: Marc-Andre Alexandre ’17 came in second in the 400. For a freshman to be coming in second at Heps is very impressive. James Randon ’17, in the 1k, came in fourth, which is pretty impressive. James Shirvell ’14, our captain, came in fifth in the mile. He’d been struggling with some sickness and things like that the past few weeks, so for him to do that is pretty impressive as well.
Q: The team finished in eighth place, but it scored more points in this meet than it had in three years. In what ways is the program improving?
A: It’s definitely looking up. The fact that Alexandre, Randon, myself and [Brendan Sullivan ’16], who scored in the pole vault, are all sophomores or freshmen definitely bodes well. We’re going in the right direction — we have people improving each time, improving on our personal bests. There have been a lot of school records set in the past few years, so things are definitely looking in the right direction.
Q: Will you be running in the IC4A Championships next week?
A: The top 16 in the country qualify for nationals, and I’m currently ranked 19th on that list. If three people pull out, I could be running nationals in two weeks in Albuquerque, N.M. I’ll find that out [tonight], hopefully. If I make nationals, I won’t [run in the IC4A meet], but if I’m not going to nationals, I’ll probably run the 3k to get a good chance to run another fast race.
Q: And looking ahead to the spring season, what is the team hoping to accomplish outdoors this year?
A: We’re bringing a big enough contingent out to Stanford in early April, so hopefully we can get a lot of regional qualifying times at that meet. I’ll be running the 10k in that meet. We’re hosting Heps this year, so that’s still the main focus. To get a strong performance at home is the main thing.