May 2, 2013

Bulldogs Embark for Princeton for Ivy League Championships

Postseason Opens With Yale Taking on Its Ancient Eight Rivals

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Coming off a three-week span in which it has competed in five separate meets, the Yale men's track and field team is preparing to open postseason action this weekend. The Bulldogs will head to Princeton's Weaver Stadium for the outdoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, which span both Saturday and Sunday. Although final entry lists will not be released until the meet begins on Saturday, most of the Elis' top athletes can be expected to compete in their best events, as the Bulldogs strive to record a top-tier finish at Heps and gain a few last-minute IC4A qualifiers. The Elis have put together a strong outdoor season—especially over the past few weeks—and seem to be clicking at just the right time. 

The Bulldogs will depend on their field athletes for significant scoring contributions this weekend. Senior Mike Levine, the two-time defending Ivy League discus champ who is competing at Heps for the last time in his esteemed collegiate career, will likely compete in both the hammer and discus throw. Levine has the fourth-best mark in both events in the Ivies this season, with a season-best throw of 178'2" (54.30m) in the discus and 185'3" (56.47m) in the hammer throw. Between the two events, Levine already has five first-place finishes this season, and he will seek to win his third consecutive discus title and hopefully add one or two more top finishes to his resume. His biggest challenger is likely to be Cornell sophomore Stephen Mozia, who placed second and fourth in the discus and hammer throw, respectively, last season.

The duo of junior Paul Chandler and freshman Brendan Sullivan, meanwhile, will lead the Elis in the pole vault. Both athletes scored at indoor Heps earlier this year, as Sullivan took fourth and Chandler fifth. The pair will seek to duplicate those strong performances this weekend amidst a competitive field including star Harvard senior Nico Weiler. Both Chandler and Sullivan have seen limited action during the outdoor season, as each of them have competed just once. 

Yale should also be a threat to score highly in the long jump, where junior Dana Lindberg has the third-best measurement in the Ivies this season—24'3.5" (7.40m). That lengthy leap, which he recorded against Harvard, is far and away a personal record for Lindberg, and he may need to approach that mark again if he is to match a talented field of Cornell jumpers—including juniors Steven Bell, Montez Blair and Hercules Stancil. Lindberg has already qualified for the IC4As in the event.

Lindberg may also compete in the 200-meter dash, an event in which he has had much success this season. He set his personal record of 21.90 at Princeton's Larry Ellis Invitational, and Lindberg will hope for similar success at the same venue this weekend. His time of 21.90 is 10th in the Ivies this season. 

The Elis will be hoping for impressive performances from their other top sprinters as well. Junior Daniel Jones nearly broke his personal record (10.97) in the 100-meter dash at the Yale Springtime Invitational last weekend and will be aiming to outrun that mark once and for all this weekend. The 400-meter dash, meanwhile, figures to be the domain of sophomore Dylan Hurley, whose time of 50.31 against Harvard is 18th in the Ivies this season.

The middle-distance events, however, have arguably been the Bulldogs' greatest strength this season. Junior James Shirvell is sure to be one to watch this weekend, as he has the 13th-fastest 800-meter time (1:51.34) and sixth-fastest 1,500-meter time (3:47.63) in the Ivies this season. Shirvell starred at indoor Heps, placing first in the 1,000-meter run in prelims and third in the final heat. Senior team captain Timothy Hillas is another middle-distance scoring threat, and he has set a personal record in the 800-meters this season and recorded the eighth-fastest 1,500-meter time in the Ivy League. Hillas has also run the 5,000-meter race a couple times this season and might compete in that event as well. Senior Sam Kirtner, sophomore John McGowan and sophomore Matt Nussbaum have also put together impressive seasons, and all three have top-25 1,500-meter times amongst their Ivy League competition. Shirvell is already an IC4A qualifier in both middle-distance events, while Hillas, McGowan and Nussbaum have all qualified in the 1,500-meters. 

Sophomore William Rowe qualified for the IC4As in the 400-meter hurdles with his time of 53.73 last weekend. Rowe has been a fixture in the event all season long, competing six times and recording six top-10 finishes and three first-place finishes. Rowe has decreased his times in the event by a couple seconds from last season and figures to be in the mix for a top spot this weekend. In the 110-meter hurdles, the tandem of sophomore Daniel Kemp and freshman Adam Lundquist have been regulars all season. Kemp has the Elis' top time of the season: 15.43.

Apart from Hillas, Nussbaum and freshman Kevin Dooney are possibilities for the 5,000-meter run. All three athletes have entered the Yale record books this season, recording all-time top-15 times in the event. Dooney and senior Matthew Thwaites have the 10th- and 15th-fastest 10,000-meter times, respectively, in the Ivies this season. Dooney is coming off a strong showing at the historic Penn Relays and could figure for a top spot in one of the two long-distance events. 

Freshman Duncan Tomlin has recently emerged as the Elis' ace in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and his first-place showings at the Larry Ellis and Yale Springtime Invitationals have certainly turned some heads.

Finally, the team of Hurley, Jones, Lindberg and Rowe has emerged as the Bulldogs' top squad in both the 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays, and it remains to be seen how the Yale coaches will utilize the team this weekend. The four athletes finished in 42.97 in the 4x100 meter relay at the Penn Relays on Friday, and that event seems like a more probable fit for the team. Hillas, McGowan, Nussbaum and Shirvell could also figure into the Elis' relay plans (especially in the 4x400 meter race), as the four of them combined to run the fastest 4xMile relay in Yale history at the Penn Relays on Saturday. 

A full schedule of events can be found at http://static.psbin.com/t/p/iyzemjmltd47y0/2013_OTF_Schedule.pdf. Complete results will be available online at www.yalebulldogs.com following the conclusion of action on both Saturday and Sunday.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity

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