Sullivan, Chandler Score Points in Pole Vault on Day One of Heps

John Keisling. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
John Keisling. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

McGowan and Shirvell Qualify for Middle-Distance Finals on Sunday

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The Yale men's indoor track and field team concluded day one of this weekend's Ivy League Heptagonal Championships in sixth place with 5.5 points through four events, thanks to scoring performances from their pole vaulters: freshman Brendan Sullivan and junior Paul Chandler. As has been the case throughout much of the season, the Bulldogs' pole vaulters carried them again on Saturday, propelling them ahead of Penn (two points) and Brown (one point). The Elis will have more ground to make up tomorrow, however, if they are to overtake Harvard (32 points), Cornell (31 points), Princeton (25 points), Dartmouth (20.5 points), or Columbia (seven points).

All of the track events—with the exception of the 3,000-meter run, which had finals on Saturday—had prelims on Saturday and will have final rounds on Sunday. The pole vault, long jump and weight throw were the only field events to have their finals on Saturday. 

Sullivan's crazy debut collegiate season continued on Saturday. After recording the 14th-best vault in Yale history in the season opener, Sullivan missed much of the season due to injury. Two weekends ago, Sullivan returned from injury and beat his initial season-opening vault with a mark of 15'3" (4.65m) at the HYP meet. On Saturday, Sullivan upped his performance yet again, with a vault of 15'5" (4.7m), good enough for a fourth-place finish and four points. The young Sullivan placed behind one junior and two seniors—one of whom was Harvard's Nico Weiler, who broke his own Heps record in the event, set last year. Sullivan needed two attempts each to clear marks at 14'7" (4.45m), 15'1" (4.6m) and 15'3" (4.65m), before finally failing to hit the 15'9" (4.8m) mark in three tries. Chandler placed right behind Sullivan in the pole vault, with a mark of 15'1 (4.6m). Because he tied for fifth place, he received 1.5 points.

Junior middle-distance star James Shirvell, however, was arguably the Bulldogs' top performer of the day, placing first in the prelims of the 1,000-meter run with a time of 2:25.96. The performance may have reminded some Yale fans of Shirvell's showing in the 2011 Ivy League Indoor Championships, when he ran the 1,000-meter run in 2:23.85 (the third-fastest time in Yale history) and placed second. Shirvell will have a chance to match—or even improve on—that performance on Sunday. His top competition for first place will likely come from Brown freshman Ned Willig, Columbia sophomore Brendon Fish, Cornell senior Nick Wade and Princeton junior Michael Williams. 

"Getting first in the prelims just gives me a lot more confidence going into tomorrow's final," Shirvell said. "I knew if I got top three in my heat I would be guaranteed to go to the final, but I don't really like to think about it that way, and rather just think about it like every other race, and try to place as high as possible. I felt really smooth and relaxed in today's race, and closed well, so that'll give me confidence that I can run fast and place high tomorrow."

Sophomore John McGowan was the second and final Bulldog to qualify for the finals in a track event on Saturday. McGowan (4:10.39) placed fifth in mile run prelims but trailed Cornell's Wade—the first-place finisher in mile run prelims—by less than one second. McGowan has already recorded a mile time of 4:04.70 this season, and he might have to run close to that mark to compete for first on Sunday. Wade has the top mile time in the Ivies this season at 4:00.00.

Meanwhile, junior Daniel Jones ran his top time of the season (6.97) in the 60-meter dash and qualified for the IC4As, despite missing qualifying for Sunday's finals by just .04 seconds. Jones has been the Elis' top short sprinter all season and appears to be in peak form with the IC4As coming up next weekend.

In the 3,000-meter run, senior team captain Timothy Hillas placed eighth in the only track final of the day. Hillas (8:14.09) had already qualified for the IC4As in the event before this weekend.

Sophomore William Rowe continued his strong season with an 11th-place finish (1:06.71) in the 500-meter dash. Two of his freshman teammates—Pete Merritt and John Keisling finished directly behind him—with times of 1:06.74 and 1:06.77, respectively. Keisling and Merritt had not seen too much action this season, and their impressive performances at Heps will likely be a highlight of their freshman seasons.

Senior Mike Levine—the reigning Ivy League champ in the discus—placed eighth in the weight throw on Saturday with a toss of 56'1.75" (17.11m). Levine has had a strong season in the weight throw, and he will be competing in the IC4As in the event next weekend.

Other notable results from Saturday's action include sophomore Dylan Hurley's 21st-place finish in the 400-meter dash (50.86); sophomore Michael Grace's 14th-place finish in the 800-meter dash (1:56.82); sophomore Daniel Kemp and freshman Adam Lundquist's 12th and 13th-place finishes, respectively, in the 60-meter hurdles and junior Dana Lindberg's 10th-place finish in the long jump (21'6.75" – 6.57m). 

Sunday's events will begin bright and early with the 60-meter hurdles portion of the heptathlon at 10:00 a.m. and will round up with the 4x400 meter seeded relay at 4:15 p.m. Sunday will see the completion of finals in all of the remaining  track events, as well as in the high jump, triple jump and shot put. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. A full schedule of Sunday's events can be found here. Results will be posted on Sunday evening, and live stats will be available here during the day.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity