May 2, 2012

Bulldogs Set Sights on Heps

Levine to Defend Discus Crown

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale men's track and field team begins postseason competition this weekend with the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships at Penn. This year will mark the 77th rendition of the signature meet, which pits the entire Ancient Eight against one another. Cornell had won the meet for eight years straight before falling to Princeton last year. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs finished fifth in 2011 and will be looking to improve upon that showing this year.

Junior Mike Levine enters the meet as the reigning Ivy League champion in the discus throw, but will be challenged to defend his title by a trio of Cornell throwers that have hit 51 meters. Levine currently owns the second best throw in the conference this year (52.37m – 171'10"), just 0.02m behind the Big Red's Stephen Mozia. Levine also owns the second-best mark in the hammer throw (58.71m – 192'7"), trailing only Princeton's US Olympic hopeful Conor McCullough.

Senior captain Matthew Bieszard also has a good chance of reaching the podium in multiple events. He was second in the 400-meter dash at indoor Heps, and his seed time of 47.98 ranks him fourth currently. Bieszard has also run the Ivy League's fourth-fastest 200-meter time (21.49), but his best shot at victory may be as the anchor leg for the Elis' All-East 4x400-meter relay team. Only Cornell has run a faster time in that race than Yale's team of Bieszard and freshmen Wiliam Rowe, Mario Kranjac and Dylan Hurley (3:17.38). Tellingly, the Bulldogs beat that same Cornell team at the indoor IC4A Championships two months ago.

As they have proven throughout the year, the Elis are always a threat in the middle distance events, where different runners have stepped up nearly every week. Senior John Van Deventer, who won the 800-meter run at last week's Yale Springtime Invitational, was third in the 1500-meter run at Heps last year, and has returned to form after a prolonged battle with injuries. Sophomore James Shirvell, winner of the 1500-meter run last weekend, has run the Bulldogs' fastest 800-meter time of the season (1:52.69) and junior Timothy Hillas has the best time in the 1500-meter run (3:48.12). Both have the potential to score if they can run a season-best in Philadelphia.

Senior Nathan Richards also picked up a bronze medal at Heps last year for the 3000-meter steeplechase. He enters with the fifth-fastest time in the Ivy League (9:05.08), though he has beaten No. 2 Connor Martin of Princeton in head-to-head competition. Yale's best hope for points in the distance events is cross country team captain Kevin Lunn, who holds the Elis' fastest times in both the 5000-meter run (14:46.83) and 10,000-meter run (30:53.35).

Sophomore Paul Chandler, who tied for fourth in the Eastern division of the Penn Relays last week, will compete in the pole vault after jumping a season best of 4.55m (14'11") at the Yale Springtime Invitational.

After Bieszard, sophomore Daniel Jones is the Elis' top sprinter, and a valuable contributor on the 4x100-meter relay team. Freshman Daniel Kemp (15.49) and Rowe (55.97) are also among the conference's top 20 hurdlers in the 110-meter high hurdles and 400-meter intermediate hurdles, respectively.

The two-day meet begins on Saturday morning and concludes Sunday afternoon. Continuing coverage is available at www.ivyleaguesports.com and full results will be available after each day of competition on www.yalebulldogs.com.

Report by Eian Katz '13, Yale Sports Publicity

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