Yale Athletics

While the majority of the Yale men’s and women’s track and field team took last weekend off from competition to recover from a busy start to the indoor season, a few field athletes traveled to Cambridge this past Friday for the Crimson Elite meet.

Several of the competing athletes posted strong marks on Friday, with pole vaulter Austin Laut ’19 giving an especially impressive performance. The California native set a new personal best in the event with a leap of 5.20 meters. Laut’s jump won him the competition. Although Laut is the school record-holder for the outdoor pole vault event, he is still eyeing the indoor record — 5.30 meters — which Brandon Sullivan ’16 set back in 2016.

“Breaking the school record is my next goal,” Laut said. “This past meet I attempted to do so yet came up short. Although I did not obtain the record at this meet, my performance level provides promise that I can be at or above the level of the school record this season.”

In addition to Yale’s pole vaulters — Laut and Erin Gerardo ’21 — a few Yale throwers and jumpers also spent the weekend competing at Harvard. Throwers Emma Vasen ’22 and Jack Dunn ’22 continued to build upon their impressive rookie campaigns and fared well among tough competition. Vasen posted a throw of 13.48 meters in the shot put, which earned her seventh place in the competition. Dunn was the top-finishing first year in the weight throw, securing sixth place with a 15.69-meter toss.

Jumpers Jimmy Shih ’19, Olivia Mooney ’20 and Elizabeth Adelson ’20 also posted solid marks in their respective competitions. Shih earned four points for the Elis with a 14.25-meter triple jump, while Mooney and Adelson both competed in the high jump and finished just outside of the scoring positions. Adelson matched her mark from last week with a leap of 1.53 meters, and Mooney had her best performance of the season with a 1.58-meter jump.

In the women’s pole vault competition, Gerardo scored six points with a third-place finish in the event. Gerardo’s outing was an efficient one, as she needed just one attempt at three different heights to outperform the majority of her opponents. While Gerardo fell short of matching her personal best jump of 3.85 meters after three attempts, she said that she felt pleased with her performance.

“I had some really great attempts at 3.85 meters which would have tied my [personal record], and so that shows me that I am capable of not only clearing that height again but hopefully jumping higher in the future,” Gerardo said. “One of the best things about this meet was that since it was just an invitational there was no pressure, so I was able to be really relaxed while I was competing.”

Although only a few of Yale’s athletes participated in the Crimson Elite, the Elis now possess an advantage because the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships will also be hosted at Harvard. According to Gerardo, getting a chance to practice vaulting from Harvard’s new and fast runway was an opportunity she did not take for granted.

As for Laut, practicing on Harvard’s track was just the cherry on top to an already fantastic weekend of competition. Since falling short of setting a new personal record during his junior season, Laut has become especially motivated in his last collegiate indoor campaign to reach new heights. After working with Yale Director of Cross Country and Track and Field David Shoehalter, Laut opted to try a riskier grip of the pole in order to better his chances of setting a new career best.

“The motto ‘Be comfortable with being uncomfortable’ was the concept behind this past week’s (and the rest of the year’s) training,” Laut said. “That being said, [Shoehalter] and I worked during the week to push my hand grip up, making the vault more challenging and dangerous. However, by doing so, it allowed me to jump higher and prepare to jump on 5-meter poles, which were the poles that I ended up using at this past weekend’s competition.”

At the end of the day, the men finished with 17 points, which was good for eighth place. Meanwhile, the women put up eight points and ended just outside the top 10 in 13th place.

After not competing this weekend, Yale’s runners and other field athletes are both reflecting on their performance at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet from two weekends ago and looking ahead in preparation for the meets ahead.

“The team felt like the [HYP meet] went fantastically,” distance runner Harrison Smith ’22 said. “We crushed Harvard and all improved on our performances from [the Yale-Dartmouth-Columbia meet] a week prior. The goal beforehand was to take the energy we’ve had at practice over the past week into the racing, and I think we did that very well. As we build towards [the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships] our next few races will be focused on getting PRs in order to qualify for the faster heats against our rivals.”

Several of the Bulldogs will head back to Boston next weekend for the Boston University Valentine Invitational, while some will remain in New Haven for the Giegengack Invitational. The Valentine Invitational will begin on Friday and span through Saturday, while the Giegengack Invitational will be held only on Saturday.

Ellen Margaret Andrews | ellenmargaret.andrews@yale.edu