Courtesy of Ivy League

Despite entering the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships with the utmost confidence, both the Yale men’s and women’s track and field teams were outperformed by the rest of the Ivy League this weekend, as both teams came in last place at the championship meet.

Facing an uphill battle entering the weekend, the Bulldogs knew that it would take their best performances of the season to fight for a high team finish. One of the Elis’ biggest challenges was that they were significantly outnumbered by the competition, which left them with limited opportunities to score points. The men’s team finished with 30 points, while the women’s team finished with 21. Still, several Bulldogs ended their indoor seasons on a high note — including pole vaulter Austin Laut ’19, who earned a second-place finish in the vault.

“The mental approach that was key to competing this weekend was confidence,” Laut said. “My strategy to jump on the larger poles and place well could only be accomplished with the right mindset — confidence.”

While the Elis struggled to set new season bests and score points at Heps, many of the athletes sustained their successful performances from earlier in the season. Thrower Emma Vasen ’22, who broke the shot put school record in just her first collegiate season, bettered her record by nearly half of a meter at Ivy Heps this weekend. Vasen snagged four points for Yale with a 14.72-meter throw. High jumper CJ McCord ’19 was also a standout field athlete at Heps, as he scored three points for the Elis in his event. McCord also set a school record in the high jump earlier this season.

As for Laut, who secured the second best mark in school history earlier this season, his final indoor performance was a testament to the consistency and poise that he has shown throughout his career under pressure. Laut needed just three jumps this weekend to earn his way into the runner-up position. His finish was good for eight points — more than a fourth of Yale’s final tally. With his final competition season ahead, Laut is motivated to continue improving.

“For the outdoor season, I am looking forward to experiencing some warm-weathered competitions and continuing to jump at higher and higher bars,” Laut said.

On the track, the Bulldogs saw their best finishes in the relay events and middle-distance events. Despite falling just short of the scoring positions, middle-distance specialist Will Laird ’21 had a particularly strong performance in the 1000-meter run for the Bulldogs. Laird bested his personal record in the event by nearly three seconds, as he finished with a time of 2:27.61. Similarly, miler Nick Dahl ’21 had a remarkable performance in the mile, as he also set a new personal best by nearly three seconds — finishing in 4:07.60.

As for the women, middle-distance standout Samantha Friborg ’22 finished a stellar season with a fifth-place finish in the 800-meter run, crossing the line in 2:09.90 — a time just off her personal record. Distance runner Jocelyn Chau ’22 also shined in the championship meet, as she set a new career best in the 1000-meter run with a speedy time of 2:47.90. Chau earned four points for the Bulldogs with her performance.

“My main strategy going into the [1000-meter run] was to stick with the leaders and try to come top four,” Chau said. “I didn’t execute exactly as I wanted — the race went out very fast, and I think I would have done better if I didn’t go out that hard. But overall, I am happy with the effort that I put in.”

Despite their struggles in the individual events, the Elis managed to score points in each of the relay events. In the 4-by-880-yard relay, both Yale men’s and women’s teams took home a sixth-place finish in the event. The men’s team, which was comprised of Laird and distance runners Harrison Smith ’22, Robert Miranda ’22 and Alex Whittaker ’21, secured a new season best with a 7:51.77 finish. As for the women, the quartet of middle-distance runners Emma Lower ’19, Arianna Lord ’20, Kosana Weir ’22 and Megan Quimby ’21 strung together a 9:06.48 performance in the same event.

In the culminating event of the weekend, the 4-by-440-yard relay, both the men’s and women’s teams finished with gritty performances. The men’s team took home two points and a fifth-place finish in the event, as sprinters Ekrem Ayhan ’21, Connor Hill ’19, Christopher Colbert ’22 and Juma Sei ’22 finished in 3:17.60. Sei anchored the relay just hours after a strong performance in the 400-meter dash — a race in which Sei placed fourth and scored four points.

The women’s 4-by-440-yard relay team also placed fifth in the event, as sprinters Lilly Enes ’20, Emma Osborne ’21, Aliya Boshnak ’22 and Addi Coy ’21 completed the race in 3:47.43. Like Sei, Enes raced the relay event soon after running the 400-meter dash. Enes took third in the event — a redemptive performance after she was tripped and fell in last year’s 400-meter finals.

“My main strategy in my [400-meter dash] was to get out fast, be first to the break line and hold that positioning,” Enes said. “I was really happy in my execution of doing that in the three 400s I ran this weekend, doing exactly so and not letting anyone pass. I felt so redeemed and happy with the outcome of this year’s 400 final. I was honestly nervous something like last year would happen again, but I tried to just focus on the task at present, being winning my heat and getting on that podium.”

At the end of the day, the Penn women and Princeton men both clinched their second straight indoor Ivy Heps championship in dominant fashion — with both teams winning by more than 25 points. Some of the Ancient Eight’s top competitors will face off again next weekend at the IC4A and ECAC Championships in Boston. As for those whose indoor season is officially over, these athletes will set their sights on the outdoor season ahead.

The Elis’ first outdoor meet will be the Raleigh Relays, hosted at NC State on March 30.

Ellen Margaret Andrews | ellenmargaret.andrews@yale.edu