The Yale men’s track and field team finished tied for sixth, improving upon last year’s eighth-place finish, at the Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track and Field Championships this weekend, while the women’s team came in eighth for the second year in a row.
The meet, hosted at Princeton, saw the champion Cornell men set a record for most points in an Ivy Heps outdoor meet with 211 and the No. 12 Harvard women win their third consecutive Ivy title with 160 points. The Yale men finished with 46 points and the women with 12.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be happy being the bottom half of the league, but we were only five points from fifth and 12 points from fourth, and we can definitely make that up [in the future],” James Randon ’17 said. “We’re losing a few heavy-hitters in terms of points [to graduation], but overall I think we’re returning the majority of people who scored. We’re a young team.”
Randon, who is on the final stretch of a historic individual season, was one of two individual Heps champions for Yale with a win in the 1,500-meter race. In an exciting finish, Randon edged out his nearest foe, Rob Napolitano of Columbia, by two hundredths of a second, finishing the race in 3:56.99. Randon, who broke the four-minute barrier in the mile this past March, has already broken the school record in the 1,500-meter race this season, with his time of 3:40.15 two weeks ago likely qualifying him for the NCAA East Preliminary Round.
Marc-Andre Alexandre ’17 recorded the other win for Yale in his event, the 400-meter dash. Alexandre’s time of 47.02, just three hundredths of a second off his personal best, can also qualify him for the NCAA East Preliminary Round in Jacksonville, Florida. Should his time remain in the top 48 in the region, he will qualify along with Randon (1,500-meter), Duncan Tomlin ’16 (3,000-meter steeplechase), Kevin Dooney ’16 (10,000-meter), captain Brendan Sullivan ’16 (pole vault), and possibly Austin Laut ’19 (pole vault), according to Randon.
“Ultimately, track and field needs a big team to field enough players to compete in all the events,” Randon said. “But if you look at events where we do seem to focus, like our long sprints, middle distance and pole vaulting, we do very well.”
Dooney’s third-place finish in the 10,000-meter run earned six points for the Bulldogs, and Tomlin’s fifth-place finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase contributed another two. Paedyn Gomes ’18 rounded out the list of individual scorers for the Bulldogs with his third-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles.
Additionally, the men’s relay teams both placed in the upper half of the league. The 4×400-meter team, comprised of Alexandre, Alexander McDonald ’16, Connor Hill ’19 and Alex McIntyre ’19, finished second behind Cornell. The 4×100-meter relay team of Alexandre, Gomes, Hill and McIntyre finished fourth, setting a new Yale season record in the event despite having a squad with two freshmen and just one upperclassman.
“It’s difficult to come in as a freshman and expect to perform right away, but [the freshmen] have been fantastic,” Randon said. “They haven’t shied away from the pressure or any of the difficulties that come with not being used to a new league and in a new setting.”
Like the men, the Eli women had success in middle distance events, though the success largely stopped there.
Frances Schmiede ’17, who set — and then reset — the school record for the 1,500-meter race this season, did not disappoint. She was one of two Elis to score points in the event, as her second-place time was just over a second and a half faster than teammate Emily Waligurski ’17, who finished fifth. Meredith Rizzo ’17 also qualified for the 10-woman final by shattering her personal best in Saturday’s qualifying heat.
But Schmiede was not done yet. She led off the 4×800-meter relay, passing off the baton to Katherine Raphael ’18 before Shannon McDonnell ’16 and Waligurski finished the race. The foursome finished in 8:53.20, good for sixth place and a point for the Bulldogs.
The only other event in which the Yale women scored points was the 100-meter dash, where captain Sydney Cureton ’16 tacked on a point with a sixth-place finish.
After a meet in which 11 of 12 Yale points were scored in middle distance or distance events — and nine of 12 involved Schmeide — the junior was quick to credit others for her success. Schmiede said Amy Gosztyla, head coach of women’s cross country head coach and the distance and middle distance coach for track and field, has played a large part in developing the middle distance group into one of the strongest on the team.
“The focus for now, for everyone, is cross country,” Schmiede said. “We’ll be starting to build up a base to run long distance. I’m excited because that’s our strongest area.”
Randon echoed that, adding that the men will take a week or two off in June before starting their training for the fall season.
But the track and field season is not over yet. With Heps completed, the women have the ECAC Championships next weekend, and the men will have IC4A Championships at the same time. All qualifying athletes will then compete in the NCAA East Preliminaries at the end of May, to compete for the chance to travel to Eugene, Oregon for the NCAA Championships in June.