Middle-Distance Runners Excel at First Annual Mark Young Invite

Alexander McDonald. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Alexander McDonald. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Well-Rounded Team Performance Nets Bulldogs Sixth-Place Finish

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The Yale men's track and field team hosted the first annual Mark Young Invitational at its own Dewitt Cuyler Athletic Complex on Saturday. The meet—which will become a staple of the Elis' schedule in future outdoor seasons—brought together a range of regional schools, including Brown, Central Connecticut, Columbia, Dartmouth, LaSalle, Manhattan, Northeastern, Sacred Heart, UMass Lowell and the University of New Haven.

The Elis finished sixth among the 11 competing teams with a total of 42 points from Saturday's events. Dartmouth cruised to a first-place team finish, ending the day with 175.70 points. Northeastern (109 points) and Brown (99.50 points) took second and third, respectively. For the runners from Brown, Columbia and Dartmouth who competed on Saturday, the meet served as an opportunity to grow more familiar with Yale's facilities—where the outdoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championships will be held in early May.

Given that the meet was held at home, the Bulldogs were in full force on Saturday, and several athletes made their outdoor season debuts. The team performed especially well in the middle-distance events, picking up 25 of their 42 overall points in the 800-meter and 1,500-meter races.

In the 800-meters, junior Michael Grace (1:54.60) led the way, finishing fourth overall, earning five points and breaking his previous personal record in the event by nearly one full second. Grace barely edged out his teammate, sophomore Alexander McDonald (1:55.76), who finished fifth and added four more points to Yale's tally. Freshman Tim Cox (2:01.36) and senior John Cocco (2:03.56) finished 23rd and 25th, respectively. 

Sophomore Kevin Dooney—who typically specializes in the distance events—was the Elis' top finisher in the 1,500-meters on Saturday, recording a time of 3:52.83, placing second overall and earning eight points for his team. Dooney—who set a personal record in the event—was competing in the 1,500-meters for just the second time in his collegiate career and the first time since March 2013. Finishing not far behind Dooney in fourth and sixth place, respectively, were freshmen James Randon (3:54.59) and Andre Ivankovic (3:57.68). Both athletes performed well during the most recent cross country season but have been very active in the middle-distance events during the track season. The next several Elis to finish the race included junior Jacob Sandry (ninth place – 4:02.16), sophomore Duncan Tomlin (12th – 4:03.37), senior Ryan Laemel (15th – 4:03.99), junior Isa Qasim (17th – 4:04.88) and freshman Ryan Douglas (18th – 4:05.15). In all, the Bulldogs entered 17 runners in the 1,500-meter event alone on Saturday, and their middle-distance depth was more than evident.

The Elis also enjoyed some strong showings in the sprint events. Freshman Marc-Andre Alexandre—who had been dealing with some minor injuries during the past few weeks—competed individually for the first time this outdoor season, placing fourth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.90 and earning five points. Senior Nnamdi Udeh (10th – 11.23) and sophomore Martin Tolentino (13th – 11.35) finished not far behind. Udeh also made his mark in the 200-meters, recording an impressive third-place finish and a time of 22.64—the fourth-fastest time of his collegiate career—while netting the Bulldogs six more points. Like Udeh, Tolentino also competed in both short sprint events, finishing 13th with a time of 23.40 in the 200-meters.
Freshman Chandler Crusan, meanwhile, continued to emerge as one of the Elis' top long sprinters, finishing fourth overall with a time of 50.86 in the 400-meter dash. He finished third in the event against Harvard last weekend. Following Crusan on Saturday was junior Mario Kranjac (51.87), who eked out a 10th-place finish over the 11th-place finisher, his teammate, junior Dylan Hurley (52.06).

Freshman Austin Loewen (15.44) and junior Daniel Kemp (15.74), meanwhile, represented the Bulldogs in the 110-meter hurdles, finishing eighth and 12th, respectively. For both runners, Saturday marked their fastest non-wind-aided times of the season.

Yale entered only three athletes—senior John Oppenheimer, freshman Torren Peebles and freshman Luke Persichetti—in Saturday's field events, including the hammer throw, javelin throw and shot put. Unfortunately, all three struggled to avoid committing fouls. Persichetti recorded the team's only legal mark of the day: a measurement of 140'4" (42.77m) in the hammer throw, good enough for a 16th-place finish.

The Bulldogs will now turn their attention to what is always one of the most exciting meets on their outdoor schedule: the historic Penn Relays. The Elis will travel to Philadelphia for the competition, which is scheduled for Apr. 24-26.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity

The Mark Young Invitational is named for Yale's legendary Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Mark T. Young '68, who coached at the school for 31 years between 1980 and 2011. Young served as captain of Yale's track and field team as a student and led the team to an outdoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championship during his senior year. As coach at Yale, Young led the Bulldogs to six Ivy League Heptagonal Championships and four top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships in women's cross country. The Elis also won four ECAC titles under Young's guidance. Young was named the national Cross Country Coach of the Year and NCAA District I Outdoor Track Coach of the Year in 1987, when he led Yale to a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships and a first-place finish in the outdoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. Young's influence and tremendous success extended well beyond New Haven, and he served as an assistant coach for the United States Track and Field Team in the 2000 Olympics.