Throughout the Yale men’s and women’s track and field teams’ 2017–2018 indoor season, individuals and relay teams combined to break 10 school records. After breaking two school records in just their first meet of the 2018–2019 campaign, the Bulldogs are on pace to handily surpass last year’s mark.
The Elis kicked off their indoor season at Coxe Cage on Dec. 8 as they hosted the annual Yale Season Opener. Although the meet was unscored with unlimited entries, the Bulldogs approached the meet no differently. Both men’s and women’s teams seemed eager to set the tone for the busy season ahead. The meet was highlighted by school record-breaking performances by high jumper CJ McCord ’20 and by the women’s 4×400-meter relay — a unit consisting of sprinters Lilly Enes ’20, Aliya Boshnak ’22, Emma Osborne ’21 and Addison Coy ’21.
“The meet was super high-energy and everybody went out and got the job done,” Boshnak said. “It is still surreal to me that we managed to break the school record our first meet out. I can’t think of a better start to my collegiate career and I am so excited for the rest of the season.
Fresh off a three-week break following a long cross country season, Yale’s distance runners hit the track with a sense of urgency to pick up where they left off in the fall. Hannah Steffke ’20 earned a second-place finish in the 3,000-meter run, knocking 10 seconds off her previous personal best. Steffke’s teammates followed closely behind, as Rachel Suss ’20 snagged third place and Lauren Chapey ’20 took fourth.
Yale’s duo of pole vaulters — Erin Gerardo ’21 and Austin Laut ’19 — both finished with impressive marks in the high-flying event, as Gerardo secured a new personal record with a 3.85-meter jump, while Laut won the event with a 5.05-meter leap. Despite Yale not having a coach specifically designated to instruct the vaulters, Gerardo and Laut have proven to be a dynamic team that thrive off each other’s strengths.
“[With this] being my last spring as a varsity athlete, each meet counts,” Laut said. “I aim to give every meet my all as well as enjoy every moment. There is no longer a chance to redo a competition next year or try harder next time, so I am doing my best to train and compete with this mindset.”
Several Yale throwers also shined in their season-opening performances. In the shot put, Andrew Rochon ’21 set a new personal best and captured fourth place with a 14.62-meter throw. Shot putters Emma Vasen ’22 and Alladia Patterson ’21 also had strong starts, securing third and eighth place, respectively.
On the track, the Elis were especially impressive in the short-distance sprint events as several Bulldogs demonstrated their potential to compete with the Ancient Eight’s best later this season. Prior to running first leg in the women’s team’s record-breaking 4×400-meter relay, Enes showed off her versatility in the 60-meter dash by winning the event in a speedy 7.74 seconds. On the men’s side, three Yale athletes — star sprinter Vincent Vaughns ’20, Phil Zuccaro ’22 and Alex Young ’20 — marked sub-seven-second performances in the same event.
“I am ecstatic about our performance in the last meet, with many of our members already obtaining lifetime personal records this early in season,” Enes said. “Regarding our [4×400-meter relay], I could not be prouder of a group of girls for the work we put in this fall, setting us up to run that fast and now even faster as our season progresses.”
Beyond demonstrating their ability to perform under pressure in individual events, several Bulldogs also showed a willingness to rise to the occasion on tired legs for the sake of aiding their respective teams. After competing in the taxing 500-meter run, Coy — the defending Ivy Heps champion in the 400-meter hurdles — recovered to anchor the Elis’ 4×400 relay to victory.
Similarly, following his remarkable performance in the high jump, McCord joined Laut and sprinters Connor Hill ’19 and Alex McIntyre ’19 in one of Yale’s 4×400-meter relay teams.
“I am so grateful to have amazing teammates and coaches that push me to be the best I can every day,” McCord said. “During my first year, I broke my takeoff leg during football season, and I feel like it is starting to get back to full strength. I’m excited for the rest of the season.”
Although the path to earning Ivy Championships will be an uphill battle for both Yale contingents, the results of the squads’ opening meet showed that each group has enough talent to have a fighting chance. In their next meet, the Elis will face conference foes for the first time this season, as they head to New York to face Dartmouth and Columbia.
The Yale-Dartmouth-Columbia meet will be held on Jan. 18. Events will begin at noon.
Ellen Margaret Andrews | firstname.lastname@example.org