Five months after the Yale football team snapped nearly a decadelong losing streak to Harvard, the women’s track and field team did the exact same, taking down the Crimson for the first time since 2007 in a two-team matchup held in Cambridge last weekend.
The Bulldogs placed first in 12 of the 20 events of the meet to total 88 points, topping the Crimson’s mark of 66 points and snapping a 10-year losing streak against their Ivy rivals. The Elis established their presence in the competition by dominating the running events, as eight of their 12 wins came in the track lanes. Solid performances in the discus, shot put and hammer events also helped Yale grab the win over its Harvard counterparts.
“Going into the meet, I didn’t realize how long it had been since we won that dual meet, but the men’s and women’s teams put up such a strong effort in their respective events to get the victory over Harvard,” sprinter Sydney Holmes ’20 said. “Everyone has been working very hard since we started training in September, but the result of this meet is proof that our work is paying off.”
Lillian Enes ’20 headlined a strong performance for the Yale sprinting team by first winning the 400 meters with a final time of 1:12.15 and then grabbing another first-place podium with 200-meter run of 26.0 seconds. Fellow freshman standout Holmes crossed the line right behind her with a time of 26.23 seconds.
In addition to placing second in the 200-meter run, Holmes followed her successful performance in hurdles by winning first place in the 100-meter race with a time of 14.52 seconds, only 0.04 off her personal best in the event.
“The race conditions were not ideal, there was a pretty strong headwind,” Holmes said. “We were able to pull out some pretty strong and technically solid performances despite not having any Crimson [athletes] to compete against.”
The success of the Elis in the sprinting events was not confined to the 200- and 400-meter sprints and the 100-meter hurdles. Both Bulldog relays teams earned five-point wins, taking the 4×100-meter event with a time of 49.23 seconds and the 4×400-meter race with a time of 4:09.06.
While not running as a team, another Bulldog trio set its mark in the competition this past weekend. Led by Emily Waligurski ’17, who won the event with a time of 2:15.62, the Elis swept the 800-meter race podium. Emma Lower ’19 and Arianna Lord ’20 completed the dominant performance with times of 2:16.40 and 2:19.44, respectively.
“Before the event, our coach told us that our race plan was to try and get Yale 1-2-3, so going into the race I think we all had that result in mind and were excited and ready to get after it,” Lord said. “[There was] a Harvard athlete ahead of me with 200 meters to go, but knowing that my teammates were ahead in first and second position, [I was motivated] to push up and run hard in the last 200 meters to get that last point for the team.”
Not to be outshined by the sprinters, Yale’s distance runners also performed admirably. Frances Schmiede ’17 beat two of Harvard’s strongest distance runners to take first in the 3,000-meter race with a time of 9:43.85 in her first time running a long distance track event. Harvard’s Elianna Shwayder and freshman phenom Judy Pendergast finished the podium with times of 9:43.85 and 9:49.13.
In addition to Schmiede’s win, Meredith Rizzo ’17 won the 1,500 meters in one of the strongest performances of her career. Her time of 4:25.31 helped her outrace Pendergast, who finished a full three seconds behind Rizzo. Crimson runner Miranda Sadler rounded out the top three in the event with a time of 4:35.35, finishing well behind the top two distance runners.
“During the race I was focused on following my teammate [Gabrielle Rinne ’19] who took the lead off the bat,” Rizzo said. “She was pacing us through in about 2:18, and Gabi let me take it after 800. Even though the Harvard girl took the lead with 350 [meters] to go, I was feeling good and wasn’t going to let her win because we came to Cambridge to win, so I just went at 300 and did my best to leave her behind.”
The senior from Bronxville, New York took advantage of her last rivalry meet and improved on last year’s performance where she finished third. Rizzo’s final 1500-meter time this past weekend almost qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Round to be held later in May. Rizzo said that while she was hoping to meet the Regionals mark, beating Harvard was the ultimate goal, and she was happy to contribute to Yale’s success.
The Bulldogs next meet will be the Virginia Challenge on Thursday at Lannigan Field in Charlottesville.