After months of preparation in the weight room and at the historic Coxe Cage, the Yale men’s and women’s track and field teams will finally kick off their seasons when they host the Yale Season Opener on Dec. 8.
Following disappointing finishes at last winter’s Ivy Heptagonal Championships, both the men’s and women’s units will look to build on experience and capitalize on incoming talent to improve this season. Sprinter Gregory Campbell ’19 captains the men’s team, while middle-distance specialist Emma Lower ’19, leads the women’s team. The Elis see the indoor season as a unique opportunity to hone in on technique and develop as a unit.
“This season, our team will be looking to lean on each other for support as we each give our best efforts,” pole vaulter Austin Laut ’19 said. “It will be especially important to train smart, remain healthy and peak at the right times so that we can see some great performances individually and as a team.”
On the men’s side, the Bulldogs welcome eleven athletes to the roster — many of whom have already gained collegiate experience as members of the cross country team. Distance runners Cade Brown ’22 and Robert Miranda ’22 were the second and fourth Elis across the line at the cross country Ivy Heps this year and will look to make an impact on the track as well this winter.
Rookie sprinters Juma Sei ’22, Phil Zuccaro ’22 and Chris Colbert ’22 also enter their first collegiate seasons with impressive resumes, having been star performers for their high school programs. Sei was the four-time Oregon School Activities Association 3A Outdoor Track and Field Champion in the 400-meter dash and boasts an impressive personal best time of 47.04 in the event. Zuccaro and Colbert possess high school records in the 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash, respectively, and will look to contribute to high-scoring relay events throughout the season.
Several veteran athletes return to the team eager to continue breaking records and scoring points for Yale, including star sprinter Vincent Vaughns ’20. Vaughns holds the Yale record for the 100-, 60- and indoor 200-meter dashes. Sprinter Ek Ayhan ’21 will be another leader for the Bulldogs this season. The New Jersey native stood on the Ivy Heps podium last spring after placing sixth in the 400-meter dash. With his sophomore campaign approaching, Ayhan has more than just performance-related goals on his mind.
“My biggest personal goal is to stay healthy throughout the season,” Ayhan said. “Injury is an inevitable obstacle we face as track athletes, and I think one of the most important personal goals we can have is to make sure we are taking care of our bodies to the best of our abilities off of the track.”
The women’s team will also see their roster bolstered by an influx of new talent, as 14 athletes join the team this season. Much like the men’s side, six of the rookies joining the women’s team have already garnered experience on the cross country team. Rookie distance runner Jocelyn Chau ’22 earned a top-10 finish at the cross country Ivy Heps this year, finishing behind Andrea Masterson ’19, who won the meet. Masterson, who has been a standout athlete in both cross country and track and field during her collegiate career, will compete in the NCAA Cross Country Championships meet on Nov. 17.
Several of the Bulldogs’ incoming rookies will provide much anticipated support to Yale’s middle-distance cohort this winter. Four first-year sprinters enter the season with sub-57 second personal bests in the 400-meter dash, including Aliya Boshnak ’22 and Maya Sharp ’22, who have both run the event in under 56 seconds. Two other rookies, Lauren Stavig ’22 and Aliyah Cunningham ’22, will add depth to the team in multiple disciplines as both compete in sprint events and the long jump.
Among the returners looking to make a continued impact on the program are hurdler Addi Coy ’21, pole vaulter Erin Gerardo ’21 and sprinter Lilly Enes ’20. Coy made history last year after breaking the school record in the 400-meter hurdles, when she finished the grueling event in 58.77 seconds. Gerardo, the lone pole vaulter on the women’s side, scored points in several meets throughout last season and will continue to strive to reach higher marks in her sophomore campaign. Enes, who boasts the fifth-fastest 400-meter time in school history, is also anxious to best her previous marks.
“My biggest personal goal is to knock down some names off the school record board in Coxe Cage,” Enes said. “There are [also] some relay and individual times that are within reach if we all put in the work for it.”
With the season opener just under a month away, the Bulldogs will focus on preparing for both the mental and physical challenges of their events. The meet will also provide an opportunity for nearly all of Yale’s athletes to compete as it is an unscored meet without entry limits.
In the season ahead, the Elis will not dwell on last year’s finishes, instead looking to build on what they did well throughout the previous season. With new talent and a renewed sense of determination, the Bulldogs are confident that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the Ivy League.
“[We will look] to have a lot of energy and competitive drive as a group so that we can each channel this into our events to help us score points and win meets,” distance runner Sevanne Ghazarian ’21 said.
The Yale Season Opener starts at 9 a.m. on Dec. 8 at Coxe Cage.
Ellen Margaret Andrews | email@example.com