Steve Musco

During their penultimate weekend of full competition before the much anticipated Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, the Yale men’s and women’s track and field teams split up to compete in three different meets. Some Elis remained home for the Mark Young Invitational, while others raced at Auburn University’s Virginia Challenge and War Eagle Invitational. The Bulldogs posted strong performances across the board, especially from their relay units competing at Auburn.

For the Bulldogs that hit the road this weekend, the athletes’ destinations were decided based on event type. Distance runners travelled to Virginia, while top sprinters traveled to Auburn. Along with the sprinters, a handful of field athletes also competed at the War Eagle Invitational. The vast majority of Bulldogs stayed in New Haven for the Mark Young Invitational. Still, one of the strongest performances of the weekend came in Alabama, as the men’s 4×400-relay team set a new season best with a blistering 3:12.38.

“We had a solid [4×400-meter relay] team at Auburn this past weekend,” sprinter Ekrem Ayhan ’21 said. “All four guys ran solid legs at the end of a long day of competing in individual events. This will very likely be the team that will run at [Ivy] Heps in two weeks and we are definitely looking to take the title.”

While Yale’s relays blew past their competition in Auburn, several individuals posted strong marks in New Haven and in Charlottesville. In the sprint events at the Mark Young Invitational, the Elis saw top performances on the women’s side from sprinters Sophie Isom ’22 and Ava Thomas ’22. While Isom secured first place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.82, Thomas captured first place in the 200-meter dash with a mark of 25.77.

As for the men’s sprinters competing at Yale, sprinter Phill Zuccaro ’22 overcame difficult weather conditions to place first in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.35. Winning performances for the Bulldogs also came from hurdler Jackson Chapman ’21, who set a new personal record in the 400-meter hurdles and from veteran distance runner Zach Capello ’19 in the 1500-meter run. At home, the Elis saw an especially strong showing from thrower Andrew Rochon ’21, who secured a new season best in the shot put with a throw of 14.55 meters.

Among the distances runners who travelled to Virginia, star long-distance runner Andrea Masterson ’19 and middle-distance specialist Samantha Friborg ’22 held their own for the Bulldogs. Friborg grabbed fourth in the 800-meter run among a field of runners from Power-5 conferences, setting a new collegiate best with a time of 2:07.83. Masterson also posted a remarkable time of 16:20.63 in the 5,000-meter run — a new outdoor best time for the senior.

The highlight performance from the men’s team that travelled to Virginia came from distance runner Allen Siegler ’20, a Science and Technology reporter for the News, who finished eighth among a field of over 45 athletes in the 1,500-meter dash. Siegler’s time of 3:47.64 fell just short of his personal-best mark of 3:47.00. With top-10 finishes in eight out of his last nine races, Siegler has proven to be one of Yale’s most dependable runners this year.

Rounding out the array of events in which the Bulldogs competed this weekend, several of Yale’s sprinters and field athletes registered high finishes at Auburn. One came from high jumper and school record holder CJ McCord ’19, who broke through the top-10 with a season-best leap of 2.05 meters. Another came from pole vaulter Austin Laut ’19, who placed fifth in his event just a week after setting a new school record of 5.31 meters — a long-awaited accomplishment for the vaulter.

“Throughout my collegiate career, I had been inching closer and closer to the school record, and so I knew that it could fall any meet,” Laut said. “I believe what made the difference was the privilege to train with such great athletes and coaches that have, in turn, propelled me to become better and better. I can’t wait to see what higher heights this season will hold.”

Thrower Emma Vasen ’21 and pole vaulter Erin Gerardo ’21 also competed at Auburn, and each took tenth in their respective events. As for the sprinters on the women’s side, the top marks of the weekend were set by hurdler Addi Coy ’21, sprinter Lilly Enes ’20 and the 4×400-meter relay unit. Coy won the 400-meter hurdles, and Enes nearly secured a new season best in the 100-meter dash before they both competed on the relay, which posted a remarkable fourth-place finish with a time of 3:45.53.

The men’s sprint cohort’s top individual performances came from two of its most consistent runners — Ayhan and Juma Sei ’22 — who took seventh and fourth in the 400-meter dash, respectively. Sei currently ranks second in the Ivy League in the event, while Ayhan sits at fourth. Both athletes were also members of Yale’s 4×100-meter relay that posted a season-best time of 40.82 at Auburn.

“The key to our improvement in the 4×100-meter relay has mostly been consistency and practice,” Sei said. “The reason we’ve continued getting better is just because we’ve had more practice with one another. You sort of just learn how … to work with the person that you’re taking the baton from and handing the baton to.”

With a number of Bulldogs in the running for top slots in the Ivy League standings, the Elis remain confident in their ability to end the season on a high note. Beyond seeking podium finishes at Ivy Heps in two weeks, the Bulldogs will also look to secure qualifying marks for the NCAA East Preliminary round down the line.

The 2019 Ivy League Heptagonal championship will begin on Saturday, and will be hosted at Princeton University.

Ellen Margaret Andrews | ellenmargaret.andrews@yale.edu