Courtesy of Yale Athletics

After hosting two invitational meets to test the waters for the indoor season, the men’s and women’s track and field team will be kicking off conference competition in New York against Columbia and Dartmouth this Friday.

This meet will mark the first time that the Bulldogs will be able to face their two Ivy League counterparts indoors this season. Following winter break and a small showing at the Yale Collegiate Invitational this past Saturday, the contest is Yale’s chance to make a strong statement and may serve as a barometer for the team’s readiness for the Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track and Field Championships.

“We have been treating this meet as a great opportunity to prepare for Heps, seeing as the Ivy Championship will take place at the same venue,” thrower Luke Persichetti ’17 said.

Persichetti took home top honors for shot put at the recent Collegiate Invitational, his 15.28-meter throw outpacing that of Sacred Heart’s Christian Turner by one-fourth of a meter. The senior thrower was also joined by strong performances by Jacob Hoops ’18, who placed third in the same event, and Marcus Downs ’19, whose weight throw of 16.21 meters was good enough for first.f

The throwing team looks to be a strong area for the Elis, both in the men’s and women’s side. At the same meet, women’s captain and thrower Kate Simon ’17 also recorded the farthest weight throw with a 16.27-meter heave. The throwers will look to pick up some points against Columbia and Dartmouth.

“This meet is less about running fast times or putting up great numbers; rather, the focus is on competing really hard and beating whoever you’re racing alongside,” Simon said. “Dartmouth and Columbia are both strong teams, so I’m excited to see how we perform.”

On the running end, strong performances by upperclassmen could prove a difference maker in the tri-meet. The men’s side will feature captain Marc-André Alexandre ’17, who raced to first in the 60-meter dash at this same meet last year and won the 400-meter dash at Heps in 2015. The Elis will also look to James Randon ’17, a mile and 3000-meter runner who competed at the NCAA Cross Country National Championships this past fall. However, as the majority of the men’s team’s freshmen — 10 of them, to be exact — are runners, this meet may also be a good opportunity to see the strength of the team’s young members.

The women’s running team brought in good results at last year’s race against Columbia and Dartmouth from returning members, with mile runner Dana Klein ’18 and 1000-meter runner Frances Schmiede ’17 winning their respective events. Still, the Bulldogs will look to improve on their performance this year.

“Since we came back from break, we have made sure everybody is mentally and physically ready for the upcoming meet,” Alexandre said. “I think the key to having a successful meet this weekend is to come in with confidence and determination, so we can set the tone right for the rest of the season.”

The women had three high jumpers compete at the Collegiate Invitational, with Olivia Mooney ’20 and Elizabeth Adelson ’20 coming in third and fourth, respectively; Lillian Foote ’17 came in sixth with a 1.50 meter clearance.

Though the men did not have any jumpers compete at the meet, Austin Laut ’19 did claim first at pole vault with a launch of 4.80 meters, beating out two Sacred Heart opponents trailing him.

Last year, the men placed third with 39 points at the tri-meet, trailing behind first place Dartmouth (89 points) and second place Columbia (53 points), while the women also finished third with 42 points. In order to try and gain a better position this year in their primary intra-conference matchup, the team has stressed a focus on points rather than individual times and distances.

“At this point in the year we are looking for good competitive efforts from everyone,” head coach of Track and Field David Shoehalter said.  “In scored meets, the priority is beating people, not necessarily the times or distances you put up.”

The women’s team has not finished above third at this annual meet since 2015 while the men’s streak stretches to 2013.