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The Yale men’s and women’s track and field teams battled in Ithaca over the weekend, earning fourth and seventh place finishes in the Ivy League, respectively.

The men’s team significantly improved from last season, with many outstanding individual performances as well as a strong overall effort. On Saturday, the first day of HEPS, Nick Dahl ’21 stormed across the finish line to win the mile, setting the tone for the team: the Bulldogs wanted to win.

But the first day did not pan out the way everyone anticipated. A series of unfortunate events, ranging from false starts to narrow misses, put the Bulldogs at a disadvantage from day one. They were forced to fight from behind, which inevitably made the meet harder than it had to be. Nevertheless, the team showed its true colors.

“We as a program took a colossal step forward this weekend,” Dahl said. “From three individual titles to an improvement of four places in overall finish for the men’s team, I couldn’t be prouder. Despite a first day of competition when it seemed fate itself was determined to limit our chances, every single man on the team stepped up in the biggest moments of the season and outperformed any reasonable expectations.”

On Sunday, the men’s team excelled. The Elis finished with a total of 67 points, more than double last season’s tally. They moved up four spots from their last place finish in 2019; Sunday was a major milestone for this track and field team. The Bulldogs were more than successful; they secured points in every track final for which they had qualified. After a tough first day, the athletes bounced back in style.

Performances by athletes such as Spencer O’Neill ’20, Juma Sei ’22 and Will Laird ’21 were crucial for the team’s overall placement. Their grit helped them secure valuable points that kept Yale on track during the meet. Trenton Charles ’22 flew down the track in the 60-meter race, setting a new school record with a time of 6.75 seconds. Meanwhile, Dahl won the mile. The two runners each claimed an individual Ivy League Indoor Championship Title.

“We take a lot away from a weekend like this,” Dahl said. “It proved to us and to the rest of the league that the Yale men’s team is a serious contender across the board. The nature of the sport is that you are always in perpetual motion, transitioning from one season to the next, but sometimes it is nice to acknowledge the progress you’ve made and celebrate those who worked hard to get where they are.”

In spite of preferring the outdoor season, the women’s team performed well this past weekend, making major improvements since last year. Although the overall result was not exactly what they hoped for, the athletes demonstrated their talents in a wide variety of events. Like the men’s team, the women’s team more than doubled its point tally from 2019, setting it on a clear upward trajectory.

Erin Gerardo ’21 continued her impressive form as she placed fourth in the pole vault. Jane Miller ’20 fought hard in the 5,000-meter race, setting a new personal record with a time of 16:32.88 minutes. Meanwhile, teammate Kayley DeLay ’21 strode across the line after 9:29.74 minutes. Her performance in the 3,000-meter has been exceptional. Her dominance, stemming from the cross country season, has been influential for the team in countless meets, and HEPS was no different.

“We are excited about where we are as a team after such a tremendous improvement from last year’s indoor HEPS,” DeLay said. “There were many great takeaways from this past weekend, but we know there is still a lot of work to be done. We tend to be a stronger team outdoors, so we are looking forward to being even more competitive in the Ivy League come May.”

In many of the races, the women’s team was just short of scoring points. In this way, the overall result is not representative of their ability. In fact, the team’s recent performances show that it is in a good position for the upcoming outdoor season.

Both of Yale’s track teams have consistently improved, and this indoor season was one of the best in recent years.

Rehan Melwani | rehan.melwani@yale.edu