Following an off-weekend meet competition, the Yale men’s and women’s track and field teams returned in full force on Friday and Saturday, as some Elis competed at the Boston University Valentine Invitational while others stayed home for the Yale Giegengack Invitational.
Although the Bulldogs opted to divide and conquer this past weekend, several of them managed to improve their marks and reach new personal bests. Yale’s runners looked especially fresh following the off-weekend and capitalized on the elongated training period by stringing together sharp individual performances and well-executed relays. Most notably, the women’s 4×400-meter relay team continued to improve on an already remarkable season, capping off the weekend’s events with yet another school-record-breaking performance.
“I was absolutely ecstatic about our performance in the relay. It was really fun to be racing such great competition; they really pushed us and hyped us up,” sprinter Lilly Enes ’20 said. “The key to our relay’s success so far throughout the season has been racing to win. When we focus on being competitive and running to win, the faster times come with it.”
The majority of Yale’s field athletes remained in New Haven to compete at the Giegengack Invitational and looked comfortable competing on their home turf. Yale’s high jumpers anchored a strong weekend with each finishing in a top-three position. High jumpers Olivia Mooney ’20 and Elizabeth Adelson ’20 — who were both among the few Bulldogs to compete in a meet last weekend — improved upon their recent marks. Mooney finished second with a 1.63-meter jump, while Adelson finished in third with a season-best 1.58-meter leap.
On the men’s side, high jumper CJ McCord ’20 outlasted his opponents — and took just four attempts to do so — as he flew over a 2.04-meter bar to earn first place. Throwers Andrew Rochon ’21 and Emma Vasen ’22 also demonstrated their composure under pressure in the shot put competition, as both athletes finished in top-three spots. Vasen earned first place with a 13.82-meter throw, while Rochon matched his personal best and secured third place with a 15.14-meter toss.
“I feel like my performance this weekend was solid,” Vasen said. “I really love getting to compete at home because Coxe Cage is really beautiful and I love being surrounded by all the history and tradition that comes with it. It’s also nice getting to compete in a familiar place, giving me more confidence in myself.”
As for those competing in Boston, the Bulldogs continued to show off their depth — especially in the middle-distance category. The Valentine Invitational provided an optimal environment for fast running. Several elite runners — including some from the Nike Bowerman Track Club — participated in the meet. In the 800-meter and 1000-meter run events, the Elis showed off their grit and stamina, crossing the finish with remarkably quick times. Middle-distance specialists Samantha Friborg ’22 and Arianna Lord ’20 set new personal bests in the 800-meter and 1000-meter runs, respectively, and set themselves up nicely for high finishes in the Ivy Championships later this season.
Even in the longer distance events, the Bulldogs proved to be at the top of their game. Star distance runner Andrea Masterson ’19 set yet another personal best with a 9.23.41 in the 3000-meter run for twelfth place in the event. In the mile, three Yale athletes — first year phenomenon Jocelyn Chau ’22, Hannah Steffke ’20 and Megan Quimby ’21— also ran for new career bests. Chau clocked a speedy 4:47.74 in the event, a time good for 19th place among a field that included both Bowerman and Atlanta Track Club elite athletes.
“I wasn’t super happy with my performance this weekend, but it is at least a good place to work from,” Chau said. “Although most of the pros and elites ran in the heat before me, it was still cool to watch them run a very fast race … With Ivy Heps two weeks away, the focus of my training will be doing some race-specific workouts. Another focus will be getting enough sleep and recovery in between the hard sessions.”
In the men’s competition, the Elis also broke personal records at a prolific pace. In the distance events, Alex Whittaker ’21, Allen Siegler ’20 and Robert Miranda ’22 were just a few of the runners that finished the meet with new personal bests. Whittaker captured two career best marks; he crossed the line in 1.55.44 seconds in the 800-meter run and then doubled back to finish the 1000-meter event in a quick 2:33.81. Miranda was the top Yale finisher in the 3000-meter run, with a 8:16.66 time, while Siegler was the first Bulldog across the line in the mile.
The weekend was also highlighted by several strong performances from Yale’s sprinters. Enes led Yale in the 200-meter dash, finishing the event in a speedy 24.96 seconds. Aliya Boshnak ’22 also held her own against elite competition and was the ninth-best first year competing in the 200-meter event. Both Boshnak and Enes recovered quickly to compete in the record-breaking 4×400-meter relay. The relay quartet, composed of Addison Coy ’21 and Emma Osborne ’21 in addition to Boshnak and Enes, set a new record with a blazing time of 3:42.75.
“We have a very positive and uplifting team dynamic and we all have a common goal and we know what needs to be done to get there,” Boshnak said about the relay unit.
The men’s sprinters mainly focused on the 200-meter event as well, and deftly executed their race plans. Juma Sei ’22 and Ekrem Ayhan ’22 were the first to cross the line for the Bulldogs, earning 12th and 13th place, respectively. Sprinter Fergal Burnett Small ’20 was the lone junior Bulldog to compete in the 500-meter run, but he held his own by setting a new personal best time — a 1:05.91 finish — in the event.
As for the relays, the Yale 4×400-meter team placed third out of 54 teams with a quick 3:15.47 time. The team, which consisted of Ayhan, Sei, Chris Colbert ’22 and Vincent Vaughns ’20, set a new season best with its time. Notably, the Bulldogs finished just behind Princeton’s squad, who Yale will face again in two weeks at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships.
“In the realm of [upcoming] training, I think our primary focus will be ‘fine tuning’ so to speak,” Sei said. “There’s not much we can do to drastically improve fitness or anything of that sort in these next two weeks (we’re there already), but we can focus on perfecting the little things. The League is getting faster by the minute, and those who will do well in Boston will ultimately depend on who’s mastered those little things.”
While the Bulldogs will enter Ivy Heps as underdogs, they believe they have the talent to perform significantly better than their performances in recent seasons. After an indoor season full of new personal bests and top-notch relay performances, the Bulldogs feel prepared to send the Ivy League a message.
The Ivy League Heptagonal Championships will take place at Harvard on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24.
Ellen Margaret Andrews | firstname.lastname@example.org