Freshmen Shine at Yale Season Opener

James Shirvell. (photo by Sam Rubin 95, Yale Sports Publicity)
James Shirvell. (photo by Sam Rubin 95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Thirteen Bulldogs Record Top-Five Finishes

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The Yale men's indoor track and field team started its season in exciting fashion on Saturday, showcasing its depth at the Yale Season Opener, held at its own Coxe Cage. The meet—which is the Bulldogs' only competition for more than a month given the holiday break—brought together a range of regional schools, including Manhattan, Sacred Heart, Southern Connecticut State and the University of New Haven. The unscored meet served as a friendly tune-up for the rest of the season following the New Year.

On a day that 13 Elis finished in the top five in their respective events, it was freshman Marc-Andre Alexandre who stole the spotlight. The Montreal native finished first in the 200-meter dash (22.37), took second in the 60-meter dash finals (after running a 6.98 and taking first in the preliminary heats) and was a member of the first-place 4x400-meter relay team (along with senior Daniel Jones, junior William Rowe and senior Nnamdi Udeh) that finished in an impressive 3:19.92. Alexandre's 200-meter dash time in his first collegiate meet was already faster than any the Elis recorded during the 2012-2013 indoor season.

Several other freshmen also made strong first impressions on Saturday. Tim Cox (2:36.01) placed second in the 1,000-meter run, Spike Sievert (4:24.25) finished fourth in the mile run and Austin Loewen (8.72) took fourth in the 60-meter hurdles final.

As expected, the Bulldogs' veterans also looked fresh in the season opener, stringing together several promising performances. Team captain James Shirvell started his senior season in brilliant fashion, placing first in the mile run and falling just more than two seconds shy of breaking his personal record in the event. Junior Michael Grace added another first-place finish, running a personal record time (2:31.10) in the 1,000-meter dash.

Sophomore Brendan Sullivan, meanwhile, set a personal record of his own—clearing the bar at a height of 15'9" (4.80m) to take first in the pole vault. The remarkable showing also earned Sullivan a spot in the Yale record books, as he now holds the fifth-best pole vaulting personal record in school history (tied with his teammate, junior Paul Chandler, who did not compete on Saturday).

Senior Dana Lindberg and freshman Luke Persichetti headlined the other field events. Lindberg (22'10" – 6.96m) placed second in the long jump—his best event—while Persichetti stepped in as the Elis' new specialist in the shot put and weight throw, placing 10th and 11th in the two events, respectively.

The Bulldogs also found plenty of success in the sprints on Saturday. In addition to Alexandre's strong debut, the team benefitted from third-place finishes from both Jones (7.04) in the 60-meter dash and Rowe (1:06.14) in the 500-meter dash. The Elis entered a deep field of 10 athletes in the 200-meter dash, with Jones taking second, followed by Udeh (seventh – 23.14), sophomore Martin Tolentino (15th – 23.51), freshman Torren Peebles (17th – 23.60) and junior Andrew Goble (20th – 23.65). Udeh (5th – 51.73) and freshman Chandler Crusan (12th – 1:09.35) also ran well for the Bulldogs in the 400-meter and 500-meter dashes, respectively.

In the hurdles, Peebles and junior Daniel Kemp joined Loewen in qualifying for the final round. Peebles (8.83) finished just behind Loewen, in sixth place, while Kemp (8.90) took eighth.

Sophomore John Keisling and junior Alexander McDonald, meanwhile, put together strong runs in the middle-distance events, placing fourth and second, respectively, in the 800-meter dash. Freshman J.P. Meredith (9:15.46) was the only distance runner to compete on Saturday, finishing eighth in the 3,000-meter run.

After a well-rounded display on Saturday, the Elis will get some deserved rest as they finish up their schoolwork and head home for the holiday break. When the team returns to school in January, it will prepare to host the Yale Invitational on Jan. 11.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity