The Yale track and field team will have its final chance to test conference competition before the Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championship on Jan. 29, when they face Harvard and Princeton on home turf.
The annual HYP meet, which will take place at Coxe Cage, pits the men and women in a three-way matchup with their foes and affords them a chance to gauge the readiness of their athletes. Coming off a second-place finish at the Columbia-Yale-Dartmouth meet in which they trailed the Big Green by only 19 points, the men will have a prime opportunity to show their improvement was not a fluke and have a chance to build upon it. On the other side of the track, the women could use this meet to give them the jumpstart they need for a strong finish at Heps.
“This meet will require the same competitive mindset as the last, only now it will be especially important to identify and correct any issues that emerged during YDC,” thrower Luke Persichetti ’17 said. “Now we have a chance to capitalize on what we have learned.”
The men, whose 70-point outing in New York this past week was the most they have scored at the annual meet since 2009, showcased strong performers in all fields against Columbia and Dartmouth. The Elis will need a repeat this weekend to upset Harvard and Princeton, both of whom defeated Yale at this competition in 2016.
The Crimson finished in second place by just two points at last year’s HYP and also came two spots ahead of the Bulldogs at last season’s Heps. If the Elis are able to continue their improvement, however, they could possibly overtake their rivals this year. The greater challenge comes from Princeton, who ran away with the meet last year, winning by 77 points. The Tigers were also champions at Heps.
The Eli men swept the sprints in New York up to the 400-meter dash, with freshmen claiming first in the 60-meters and second place in two other sprint events. If the underclassmen are able to repeat their impressive showing, the sprints may end up being key for Yale in the final tally.
“Our freshman class is very talented,” said sprinter Kyle Macauley ’20, winner of the 60-meter dash at YDC. “The older athletes have really shown us the ropes and pushed us to be competitive immediately.”
Some other performers to look out for include distance runner James Randon ’17 and hurdler Paedyn Gomes ’18. Both athletes had times in their respective events against Columbia-Dartmouth, the 1,000-meter run and the 60-meter hurdles, that were faster than any run at HYP last year.
In addition, a long jump of 7.13 meters by Bruno Jednacak ’20 has only been surpassed this season among the three teams by Princeton’s Greg Leeper, who has jumped 7.21 meters.
In the throws department, the Bulldogs may need to increase the distances from last week, but look to Persichetti and Jacob Hoops ’18 to step up to the plate if needed.
The women did not perform quite as impressively at YDC, coming in third with 39 points. However, their score was still a two-point improvement from the prior season and trailed runner-up Columbia by only six.
The Elis will face stiff competition this weekend: Harvard finished first at indoor Heps last year and Princeton came in fourth.
“Harvard-Yale-Princeton is such a great rivalry and we are all excited and getting ready to perform our best,” jumper Olivia Mooney ’20 said. “Everyone has been really focused on these team-scoring meets because they are the ones where everyone’s’ times and jumps and throws affect the rest of the team.”
Underclassmen are also a key factor for the women in this upcoming meet, as they were in the previous one. Though the women remain strong in distance, it will be the other events that will determine how many points the team finishes with.
The high jump features two freshmen, Mooney and Elizabeth Adelson ’20, who tied for first at YDC. Meanwhile, as always, captain and thrower Kate Simon ’17 will anchor the shot put and weight throw. Simon placed first and second, respectively, in those events last week.
“Everyone did well in New York and the plan now is to trust our training and do our best because this will be one of the tougher meets,” Adelson said. “As far as the freshman class goes, every freshman on the team is talented at what they do and all share a hard-working, ambitious mentality.”
At HYP, the men will be itching to prove their score at YDC was not a fluke while the women want to gain some momentum going into Heps. Though neither Harvard or Princeton is a pushover, it would not be surprising to see Yale gain a second-place finish in either the men’s or women’s division this weekend, an accomplishment would mark the first such occasion since 2009.