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Shirvell Shatters Yale’s All-Time Mile Run Record

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

Alexandre and Sullivan also Cruise into Yale Record Books

BOSTON, Mass.—The Yale men's track and field team left Boston with multiple record-setting performances on Saturday, after competing at Boston University's Terrier Invitational. The unscored meet pitted the Bulldogs against the deepest field of competition they had faced all season. Competing alongside the Elis at the meet were a wide range of northeastern and New England schools, as well as several of Yale's Ivy League rivals, including Brown, Dartmouth and Harvard. Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp even travelled to Boston for the meet, in order to compete in the special two-mile run event.

On a day when more than one Bulldog made his mark in the Yale record books, senior James Shirvell's performance stood out among the rest. The team captain—who competed at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships last year—placed third in the mile run in a field of 176 runners, finishing in 4:00.54 and breaking the previous Yale mile record by nearly four seconds (not to mention breaking his own personal record in the event by almost nine seconds). 

If not for Shirvell's huge day, freshman Marc-Andre Alexandre would have perhaps stolen the spotlight on Saturday. The Montreal native—who has excelled in the short sprints in his debut season—competed in the 400-meter dash for the first time in his collegiate career, placing third and coming just two-hundredths of a second shy (47.45) of tying the all-time Yale 400-meter record. Alexandre's phenomenal running also helped lead the Bulldogs' 4x400-meter relay team of Alexandre, junior Dylan Hurley, senior Dana Lindberg and junior William Rowe to a fifth-place finish and the 12th-fastest 4x400-meter relay personal record (3:15.30) in Yale history.

Not to be outdone, sophomore pole vaulter Brendan Sullivan also made his mark in the Yale record books on Saturday. Sullivan's sophomore season has been a brilliant one thus far, as he had set or tied his personal record at each of the first three meets of the season coming into Saturday's competition. The sophomore kept his streak alive at the Terrier Invitational, placing first in a field of 35 athletes and recording a personal record mark of 16'4.75" (5.00m). Sullivan now holds the fifth-best personal record in the event in Yale history (just as he did coming into the meet), and he continues to close in on some of the Bulldogs' all-time great pole vaulters.

The Elis also found success in the 5,000-meter race, the longest event in which the team has competed this season. Three members of Yale's regular top seven from the most recent cross country season stepped up on Saturday, as sophomore Alex Conner (14:47.96), junior Isa Qasim (14:48.93) and sophomore Duncan Tomlin (14:48.96) finished back-to-back-to-back in 11th, 12th and 13th place. Conner was competing in a track and field meet for the first time in his two years at Yale, and Tomlin managed to break his previous personal record in the event by more than 10 seconds.

Overall, the Bulldogs—despite not bringing a full team to Boston—put on a well-rounded display on Saturday. Lindberg and senior Daniel Jones led the team in the short sprints, placing 29th and 39th, respectively, in the 60-meter dash preliminary round and 15th and 40th, respectively, in the 200-meter dash. In the 400-meter dash, junior Mario Kranjac (50.20) set a personal record, just barely outrunning Hurley (50.40), the Elis' usual star in the event. Meanwhile, junior William Rowe (1:05.51) fell just more than half of a second shy of breaking his personal record in the 500-meter dash. Sophomore John Keisling (1:06.94)—who has been a significant contributor to the team in the relays and long sprints this season—finished not far behind Rowe and less than one second slower than his personal record in the event.

In the 60-meter hurdles, the normal trio of junior Daniel Kemp, freshman Austin Loewen and freshman Torren Peebles represented the Bulldogs. Although the freshmen have performed well this season, it was Kemp who led the group on Saturday, finishing 32nd with a time of 8.79.

Yale also displayed its depth in the middle-distance events. Apart from Shirvell and his stellar showing in the mile run, senior John Cocco (2:34.45), junior Michael Grace (2:28.87), sophomore John Mahoney (2:29.97) and sophomore Max Payson (2:34.96) all ran well in the 1,000-meter run. Grace already owned the team's top 1,000-meter time of the season coming into Saturday's meet, and he outran that time by more than two seconds at the Terrier Invitational, setting a new personal record and cementing his place as one of the team's top 1,000-meter runners. In the 800-meter run, meanwhile, sophomore Alexander McDonald (1:56.14) finished 39th overall. 

Finally, in the 3,000-meter run, cross country star Kevin Dooney placed 29th with a time of 8:21.94. The Irish sophomore—who qualified for the 2013 Division I NCAA Cross Country Championships—was competing for the first time since he represented his home country at the European Cross Country Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, back in December.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity