Courtesy of Steve Musco

The Yale men’s and women’s track and field team travelled to Princeton this weekend for their fourth-straight road meet, as they took on over forty other programs — including six Ivy League opponents — in the Sam Howell Invitational.

Although the Bulldogs fell short of securing any overall first-place finishes in the meet, several Elis took runner-up spots and performed at high levels at what was many athletes’ first meet of the spring. One of the highlight performances of the weekend came from the men’s 4×100-meter relay team, as the Elis took second place to Princeton by just .10 seconds. The time was good for the relay’s fastest season-opener in school history.

“The 4×100-meter relay team has been focused primarily on developing our drive phase and improving our top-end speed,” sprinter Vincent Vaughns ’20 said. “Overall, we were happy with how we executed the race on Saturday. Our hand-offs were fairly clean considering how early in the season it is, and we ran a competitive time to open the season. Definitely more work to be done, but we were happy with the performance.”

Yale’s men’s 4×100-meter relay was not the only event in which the Bulldogs shined this weekend. The 4×400-meter relay squad also kicked off its outdoor season on a strong note, as the Bulldogs took third place in the event. Although the time of 3:17.06 ran by sprinters Christopher Colbert ’22, Connor Hill ’19, Kyle MaCauley ’20 and Alex McIntyre ’19 was well off the relay’s best time from 2018, it was still a promising start to the season, as the group finished less than three seconds off the winning time.

The Bulldogs’ distance group on the men’s side also put together several impressive performances. In the steeplechase, distance runners Robert Miranda ’22 and Harrison Smith ’22 were two of 19 athletes to take on the grueling event at Princeton. Miranda and Smith were the first two rookies to finish the event, with Miranda taking seventh place and Smith taking twelfth. Yale saw another strong performance from distance runner Cameron Wyman ’21, who took sixth in the 800-meter run with a personal best time of 1:52.50.

“The race went pretty well, it was a good way to start the outdoor season,” Wyman said. “The heat I was in was full of fast guys, but 200 meters into the race, I could tell the pace was a bit slower than I wanted. After a rough indoor season, my goal for the race was to stay with the pack feeling good through 600 meters. I did and even had enough energy to throw in a kick at the final 100 to gain a few more places.”

As for the field athletes, the Elis saw strong showings from a number of competitors, including high jumper Spencer O’Neill ’21, pole vaulter and school-record holder Austin Laut ’19 and triple jumper Jimmy Shih ’19. O’Neill secured eighth place with his best jump since December, while Laut and Shih posted fourth- and fifth-place finishes, respectively.

Other top individual performances on the men’s side came from Yale’s sprinters. Sprinters Ek Ayhan ’21 and Juma Sei ’22 — who both came off standout performances at the Raleigh Relays last weekend — were among the top sprinters in the meet. Ayhan secured a new personal record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.51 — just .05 seconds off the winning time. Sei took an impressive fifth place in the event.

“I thought it was another trailblazing opener,” Sei said of the Invitational. “We had a number of strong performances across the board, and this kind of competition is what we need to propel us into this weekend versus Harvard and beyond. Personally, I was disappointed by my showing in the [200-meter dash], but nevertheless, as a first year, this was a good opportunity to put my personal desires/ ambitions aside, recognize I’m not going to run amazing every meet and think as a pack.”

Yale’s women’s team also put together some speedy performances on the track. Sprinter and hurdler Addi Coy ’21 had a redemptive performance in the 400-meter hurdles after a tough fall at the Raleigh Relays, as she took second place in the same event with a time of 1:00.25. Sprinters Aliya Boshnak ’22, Sophie Isom ’22, Emma Osborne ’21 and Lilly Enes ’20 competed as a unit in both the 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter relays, finishing in fifth place for both events.

In the field events, star rookie thrower Emma Vasen ’22 officially set a new school record in the outdoor shot put with a throw of 14.69 meters. High jumpers Olivia Mooney ’20 and Elizabeth Adelson ’20 also competed for the Bulldogs at Princeton, and both were just .10 meters off the winning jump of 1.70 meters.

As for the distance events, the Bulldogs registered a number of personal best times, especially in the 1,500-meter run.  Three of Yale’s five runners in the event set new collegiate personal records, with distance runners Arianna Lord ’21 and Sarah Pillard ’21 beating their previous best times in the event by more than eight seconds each. Running in the first 1,500-meter event of her career, distance runner Zoe Nuechterlein ’21 posted a time of 4:45.52, which was good for thirteenth place in the unseeded division of the event. Although it was a new event for the sophomore, she felt comfortable in the race.

“The [1500-meter run] is very similar to the mile, so even though it was my first it didn’t feel like a new event,” Nuechterlein said. “But since I didn’t have any previous 1500 times, I was able to focus on racing and trying to pass people instead of just chasing personal records, which I think helped me run faster.”

With the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships just one month away, the Bulldogs benefited greatly from their last-minute change of plans, deciding to compete in Princeton instead of at the College of William & Mary this past weekend. The only program out of the Ancient Eight not to send athletes to the Howell Invitational was Harvard — the Elis will face off against the Crimson in a dual meet next weekend.

The annual Harvard-Yale meet will be a one-day competition, hosted by the Bulldogs at the Dewitt Cuyler Athletic Complex on April 13. Events begin at noon.

Ellen Margaret Andrews | ellenmargaret.andrews@yale.edu