The Yale men’s and women’s track and field teams traveled to Boston University this weekend to compete at the Valentine Invitational. The meet, which was the last unscored competition of the Bulldogs’ 2015–16 indoor season, gave Yale athletes a chance to qualify for the women’s ECAC and men’s IC4A regional championships next month, while also serving as a final tune-up before the highly anticipated Ivy League Heptagonal Championships in just two short weeks.
Perhaps most notably, the weekend’s competition allowed the Bulldogs to showcase their improvement as a program this season: Four new school records were set on Saturday, continuing an astounding trend. Including this past weekend’s performance, the two Yale track and field teams have now broken school records seven times in three weeks.
“These athletes have been close to breaking these records for a while now,” men’s captain and pole vaulter Brendan Sullivan ’16 said. “A lot of people are peaking now, which bodes well given that Heps is less than two weeks away.”
Contributors to this historic run include repeat offenders Sullivan and Frances Schmiede ’17, who had broken the school record in pole vault and the mile, respectively, at the H-Y-P meet on Jan. 29 and beat their own marks this past weekend. James Randon ’17 also broke the Yale record in the men’s mile, and Austin Laut ’19 and Connor Hill ’19 added new freshman bests in the pole vault and 200-meter dash, respectively.
Sullivan cleared his record-setting vault from three weeks ago by almost half a foot this time around. Sullivan’s new personal best of 5.30 meters is not only the top mark in the Ivy League, but also the second-best vault in the ECAC.
“I feel pretty healthy, and am grateful that things are finally working out,” Sullivan said. “I know I can go even higher, and want to make the most of my last indoor season.”
While Schmiede was the only member of the women’s team to break a record during a stretch in which the men broke four, her performance has more than made up for the discrepancy. Schmiede, having beaten the Yale mile time of current professional runner Kate Grace ’11 less than a month before, struck again this weekend.
Placing in the top 10 out of a field of almost 250 runners, Schmiede’s new best mile time of 4:37.77, more than a second faster than her previous personal best of 4:38.87, gives her the top spot in the Ivy League and the 12th-best time nationally.
“I feel like it’s been a while coming,” Schmiede said of the performances as a whole. “There have been signs that the team was sharpening up in the fall. The whole team has been dialed in.”
Schmiede did not have the only historic mile performance for Yale this Saturday, as Randon also broke the men’s record. Competing in the event for the first time all season, Randon ran a 4:00.53, just a hundredth of a second faster than the previous record set by James Shirvell ’14. Randon, who also holds the fastest freshman mile time in Yale history, is now fourth in the Ivy League in the event.
In the weekend between Sullivan’s two record-setting pole-vault performances, Laut stole the spotlight in the event, clearing the previous freshman record by almost a foot with a vault of 5.10 meters.
Last but not least, Hill impressed this past weekend with a time of 21.86 seconds in the 200-meter dash, setting not just the freshman Yale record, but coming within striking distance — 0.23 seconds — of the actual record.
“The coaching and their training techniques as well as the support from my teammates have been very helpful,” Hill said. “The seven broken records are amazing and show great promise for the future of the program.”
The historic performances from Yale early in the indoor season all follow a cross-country season that was also historic. This past fall at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, the second- and third-place showings for the Yale women and men, respectively, marked the best combined finish for the two Yale cross-country programs in 25 years.
While school records have been broken before, athletes noted the opportunity for Yale to utilize this momentum as the Bulldogs now take two weeks to prepare for Heps.
“The team as a whole is moving in a better direction than last year,” Sullivan said. “Confidence is not only higher, but also the work ethic and energy amongst the team. We have the opportunity to put up some great performances at the Ivy League Championships.”
Ivy Heps begin on Feb. 27 at Cornell.