Yale Athletics

After two weekends off from competition following the conclusion of their indoor seasons at the IC4A and ECAC championships on March 2 and 3, Yale’s track and field teams were back in action this weekend in Orlando where they kicked off their outdoor seasons at the University of Central Florida’s Knights Invite on Friday and Saturday, March 22 and 23.

Although there were no team scores for the weekend, the Yalies got a taste of top-level competition, competing against teams from the Big 10 and ACC, including Clemson, Penn State, Villanova and West Point. Several Bulldogs earned podium honors following the two-week break from classes which gave them even more time to focus on training.

“We were able to take full advantage of great weather and had a great week of training,” head coach David Shoehalter wrote to the News. “Lots of adjustments when you move outdoors especially in the field events. The wind can be a major factor and adjustments need to be made on the fly. We use these early meets to gauge those adjustments”.

On the men’s side, captain Matt Appel ’24 led the way in the field events while a full squad of distance runners dominated on the track. Appel took first overall in the discus with a hurl of 56.32m, blowing away the second-place thrower from West Point by over two meters. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs notched an incredible 1-5 punch in the 1500m run, with Owen Karas ’26, Winslow Atkeson ’25, Leo Brewer ’25, Brian Gamble ’27 and Braden King ’26 all finishing within three seconds of each other to earn first through fifth place. In the mid-distance events, Thomas Cirrito ’24 also impressed with a 1:49.22 PR in the 800m, earning him 5th place.

Appel, a senior who will be taking advantage of his final year of eligibility next year to compete for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the transition to the outdoor season provides the team with a special opportunity every year to bond over a spring break trip.

“We always take the opportunity to make the spring break training trip a bonding experience for the team,” Appel wrote to the News. “After bright and early practice, we were all getting meals together, going bowling and some of us even went to an Orlando Magic game! It’s a unique opportunity to be around only people on the team for a whole week without the pressure of school that doesn’t happen at any other point in the year and I think we made the most of it.”

The women’s team was led by Victoria Guerrier ’27 in the 800m, who took second place with a 2:06 PR. Several other athletes finished in the top 10 for the women’s team, including Linde Fonville ’26 setting a PR of 4:27.07 in the 1500m dash for a 4th place finish, Maria Leskovec ’24 setting a PR of 51.55m in the hammer throw for an 8th place finish and captain Bella Bergloff ’24 with a 44.14m throw in the discus for a 10th place finish.

While women’s captain Bergloff said she appreciated the opportunity to head back outdoors, she noted that the long week of training and bonding makes it hard to set expectations for the rest of the outdoor season.

“It was great to open up this past weekend at UCF, and be outside in good weather again,” Bergloff wrote to the News. “It can be hard to use this meet as a gauge for the rest of the season, as it was at the end of a tiring week in a new environment. But we got some great baseline marks, and I know everyone is super stoked to be competing outside again, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we’ll do over the next month or so.”

The team will compete next at the Raleigh Relays at North Carolina State University on Thursday, March 28, their outdoor season opener in 2023. They will also compete at the UConn Dog Fight Invite on Saturday, March 30.