Courtesy of Yale Athletics
To conclude the indoor track season, the Yale men’s and women’s track and field teams traveled to Boston University this weekend for the IC4A/ECAC Championships, for which 23 Bulldogs qualified. In the regional tournament, which brought together competitors from more than 50 schools from the East Coast, the Yale men tallied 22 points and placed 15th while the women placed 11th with 23 points, tying with Harvard’s women’s team for the best Ivy performance at the meet.
Highlights for the men, who finished second among the six Ivy schools in attendance, included the record-breaking performances put forth by James Randon ’17, who joined the sub-four-minute mile club in his victory this weekend, and the men’s 4×400-meter relay team. For the women, the mile continued to be a source of strength for Yale as Meredith Rizzo ’17 posted an impressive victory of her own.
“Any track and field runner could tell you that the four-minute mile is a mythic barrier that every miler aspires to break,” Randon said. “To break it is simply a dream come true. I didn’t feel amazing coming in honestly, but I knew it was my best shot until next year.”
Randon started the weekend off strong by winning his preliminary heat, and proceeded to shatter the elusive four-minute barrier with a time of 3:58.85. Winning by a substantial margin of nearly five seconds, Randon bested the IC4A Championships’ previous event record of 4:00.06, set by Georgetown University’s Mike Stahr in 1988. This means he is the owner of the first-ever sub-four-minute mile in both Yale school history and IC4A history.
“[Randon] and coach [Paul] Harkins deserve a great deal of credit for creating a plan for success,” head coach David Shoehalter said of the performance.
Randon bested the previous Yale record -— which he also held — by almost two seconds, less than a month after finishing just a few hairs short of reaching this milestone at the Valentine Invitational, where he ran a 4:00.53. This marks the second time this season that Randon has set the Yale record in the mile.
Along with Randon, Andre Ivankovic ’17 and Matt Chisholm ’18 also qualified for Sunday’s final heat in the mile, finishing fifth and eighth, respectively. Randon, Ivankovic and Chisholm all received Second Team All-Ivy honors last week for their performance at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on the distance medley team.
The other record-breaking performance for Yale came courtesy of the 400-meter relay team, led by Marc-André Alexandre ’17 along with the freshman trio of Connor Hill ’19, Alex McIntyre ’19 and Gregory Campbell, Jr. ’19. The squad finished with a time of 3:10.96 in Saturday’s preliminary competition, which was also the top qualifying time. Having entered the weekend with the goal in mind of breaking the school record, the group elected not to compete in Sunday’s final competition after already setting the new mark.
“We have been working toward running a fast time since the beginning of the year,” Shoehalter said. “This is a special group and there will surely be much more to come.”
Having received Second Team All-Ivy honors last week, the relay team bested the previous record, set in 2005, by almost a second in Saturday’s heat. Nearly a year ago to the day, Alexandre had a historic performance at this same tournament, breaking Yale’s 400-meter record twice in one weekend.
The other competing relay team was the distance medley team, comprised of Thomas Gmür ’18, Chandler Crusan ’17, Alexander McDonald ’17 and Trevor Reinhart ’19, which ran in place of the aforementioned Second Team All-Ivy winning group that competed at Heps. Despite the change, this team secured Saturday’s fastest qualifying time and ultimately placed sixth in the finals with a time that was more than five seconds slower than its time on Saturday.
Another notable performer for the men was pole vaulter Austin Laut ’19, who placed fourth with a height of 4.95 meters one week after finishing fourth at Heps. Captain Brendan Sullivan ’16, who finished third at Heps after clearing 5.07 meters, did not compete this meet.
For the women, Rizzo’s victory continued Yale’s hot streak in the mile, propelled this season by Randon and Frances Schmiede ’17, among others. After winning the preliminary heat with a time of 4:52.50, Rizzo ran a time of 4:44.11, which was good for the fourth-best mile time in Yale indoor history.
“I went in planning on doing everything I could to put myself in a position to win,” said Rizzo, who edged out the second-place finisher from Connecticut by one-tenth of a second. “I felt very calm and collected about it which was a really fun feeling to have.”
Grace Brittan ’16 also competed in the mile and finished sixth with a time of 4:55.15, after posting a slightly faster preliminary time than Rizzo. Star miler Schmiede did not take part in this tournament, as she was resting since she will be the sole Yale competitor, for both the men’s and women’s teams, at the NCAA Indoor Championships next week.
Representing the Bulldogs in the 800-meter run was Emma Lower ’19, who impressed in her debut ECACs. Coasting through the preliminary stage with a time of 2:11.64, she ultimately finished fifth with a time of 2:12.18, good for fifth place and the accompanying four team points.
“I was really just aiming to qualify through to Sunday,” Lower said. “Once that happened I just wanted to run on a fast tack with girls who would push me. It was great to end the indoor season on such a high note for everyone.”
After receiving First Team All-Ivy honors for her win in the 800-meter run at Heps last week, Shannon McDonnell ’16 competed in the 1,000-meter run at ECAC. She easily qualified for Sunday’s final with a time of 2:53.00 in the prelims, and went on to set a new personal best with a time of 2:49.56 in the main heat, securing a fifth-place finish. McDonnell’s time is the all-time third-best time in the event.
“We ended the season on a very good note at the IC4A/ECAC,” Shoehalter said. “If we can build on the momentum and enthusiasm of this past weekend, it should be a very exciting outdoor year.”
Neither team will compete again until after spring break. The outdoor season kicks off at Princeton on April 8.