Following a four-week hiatus from indoor competition, the Yale men’s and women’s track and field teams will kick off their outdoor season at the Raleigh Relays this weekend.
Though both teams struggled to post high scores at the indoor conference championships back in late February, many athletes returned to the track with a vengeance the following weekend at the IC4A and ECAC championships. Several Elis set new personal bests, including sprinter Lilly Enes ’20, who set a new school record in the 400-meter dash. The Bulldogs will look to sustain their momentum from the conclusion of the winter season as they head to N.C. State for their upcoming meet.
“The biggest key to success in approaching outdoors for our team is, in my opinion, to get excited,” Enes said. “Everyone is familiar with running outdoors and it’s all what we know and are comfortable with. … The best part about competing against such strong teams and athletes is how humbling it is and also rewarding. When we come out here and perform well against other very good athletes, it is a nice confidence boost in ourselves and our teammates.”
The Raleigh Relays has been a notoriously competitive event in recent years featuring top track and field athletes from around the nation — including several from Power-5 conferences. In the past, the Bulldogs competed not only among the nation’s best in North Carolina but also against other Ivy League schools. Last year, several Yale athletes capitalized on the competitive atmosphere of the meet, including star distance runners Trevor Reinhart ’20 and Andrea Masterson ’19, who both posted top-10 finishes in their respective events.
The Bulldogs are eager to see how their talented first-year athletes perform in their inaugural outdoor competition. At the IC4A and ECAC Championships, several rookies showed incredible composure among veteran opponents. Distance runner Jocelyn Chau ’22 secured first place in the mile, while Robert Miranda ’22 set a new first-year record in the 3,000-meter run.
Rookie throwers Emma Vasen ’22 and Jack Dunn ’22 also burst onto the scene during the indoor season and will look to carry over their success into the spring. Vasen captured a school record in the shot put this past winter with a 14.72-meter throw, while Dunn also secured the fifth-best weight throw in school history during the indoor season. Both athletes are looking forward to transitioning to the outdoor season.
“I’m really excited to just have the opportunity to compete,” Vasen said. “I love getting the chance to go out there and be competitive. I’m also excited to get to throw the outdoor implements — hammer and discus — as well as compete in shot put, as that’s something I didn’t get to do in high school.”
Many Yale returnees are focused on continual improvement and setting new career bests this upcoming season, which many Elis accomplished last spring. Athletes, such as hurdler Addi Coy ’21, who will finally have the opportunity to compete in her specialty event the 400-meter hurdles, are looking forward to further etching their names into the record books this season. In just her first outdoor season, Coy set a new school record in the 400-meter hurdles by more than three seconds, earning her first Ivy League title in the process.
Several of Yale’s relays will also look to build on last season’s success. The Bulldogs’ men’s 4×100-meter and 4×800-meter relays set the second-best times in school history last year, while Yale’s women’s 4×400-meter relay secured the third-best time in school history.
“We need to put a special emphasis on recovery for the outdoor season,” sprinter Ek Ayhan ’21 said. “There are many meets in a short time period of time so we need to make sure our bodies are ready to go at all times.”
As Ayhan emphasized, the Bulldogs possess the tools to mount an accomplished outdoor campaign, but they will still have to continue to focus on remaining healthy and confident in order to do so.
Yale’s vaulters are also eager to hit the outdoor runway. Outdoor school record holder Austin Laut ’19 and Erin Gerardo ’21, the fourth-best vaulter in Yale history, are primed to have another strong season.
“My goals for myself are to come back to competition healthy and get some good performances early so that I have confidence going into the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, and I would love to be able to score at Heps for my team,” Gerardo said. “In regards to team goals, I hope that we can continue to go out there and improve on the indoor PRs that were set and break some more records.”
Following the Raleigh Relays, the Bulldogs will have another meet in the Mid-Atlantic — the Colonial Relays at William and Mary — before returning home to New Haven for the annual Harvard-Yale meet.
The outdoor season will culminate with two of the most renowned and exciting events in track and field — the Penn Relays and the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships — which will be contested on back to back weekends.
The Raleigh Relays will begin this upcoming Friday and run through Saturday.
Ellen Margaret Andrews | firstname.lastname@example.org