After two last-place finishes at the Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track and Field Championships last year, the Yale men’s and women’s teams are both optimistic and confident going into this year’s championship season.
Both teams will travel to the Albert H. Gordon Indoor Track in Cambridge to take on the rest of the Ivy League in the two-day meet this weekend.
“We’re facing a lot of competition in a league steeped in tradition, which can be intimidating. But at the same time, this weekend presents a huge opportunity to demonstrate the hard work we’ve put in as a team,” Kate Raphael ’18 said. “We’ve made a lot of progress collectively and individually, and Heps is where all that hard work can come to fruition.”
Though the Bulldogs are optimistic about this weekend’s competition, history is not on their side. The men’s squad has not won the meet since 1961 and has finished in last place the last five years. Since the women’s competition began in 1981, the Elis have yet to bring home the championship and have finished last in five of the past six years.
Yet the Bulldogs firmly believe they are on the rise, and many athletes think this will be Yale’s best year in recent memory.
“I feel that as a whole, this is the most ready our team has been in the four years I’ve been here,” women’s captain Kira Garry ’15 said.
The Bulldog teams will need to build upon the individual success they have had throughout the season in order to see improved results this year.
On the men’s side, the running Bulldogs will hope to see more of the same from sophomores James Randon ’17 and Marc-André Alexandre ’17, who compete in the mid-distance races and sprints, respectively. Both men have brought home first-place medals throughout the season, and both placed in the top five in last year’s championship as freshmen.
Randon, despite competing in a very strong field of milers, is confident he can finish close to the top, if not win his top race.
“There have been a number of us attacking that four-minute mile barrier, and coming very close, but not quite getting it,” Randon said. “I honestly think four to five guys will enter this weekend expecting to win, myself included.”
In the field, thrower Luke Persichetti ’17 looks to better his strong season performance after taking third in a meet against Harvard and Princeton earlier in the season, while pole vaulter Brendan Sullivan ’16 aims to continue his own success, finishing among the top three several times this season.
Sullivan added that while personal bests are not necessary for success at Heps, performances consistent with the rest of the season will set the Bulldogs up to hurdle where they have historically finished.
“I think our team is ready to improve off of last years performance, but we aren’t looking for any show stopping performances,” Randon said. “[The coaches] expect the best out of us, and I think we will deliver.”
The Yale women’s squad will also look to improve over last year’s results. Like the men, they expect big performances from their top competitors to drive them towards success.
Leading the way is Emily Waligurski ’17, who runs the middle-distance races and anchors the women’s 4 x 880 yard relay. After individual success throughout the season, she said she is excited about her individual chances and team prospects this weekend.
“This weekend is our chance to make it all worthwhile and to prove to the other teams, as well as to ourselves, that our team is a force to be reckoned with,” Waligurski said. “We plan to show the [Ivy League] what we can accomplish as a team that has stayed focused on the goal throughout the season.”
The two-day competition dictates that qualifying trials will be held on Saturday and final races will be run on Sunday, giving participants a chance perform at their peak in each race.
Racing begins Saturday at 10:45 a.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. The awards ceremony will take place at 5:15 p.m.