Bulldogs Prepare for Penn Relays and Springtime Invitational

William Rowe. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
William Rowe. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Elis Have Busy Weekend Ahead

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—The Yale men's track and field team has one of its most exciting weekends of the season coming up, as it sends several athletes to Philadelphia for the historic Penn Relays on Thursday through Saturday before preparing to host the annual Yale Springtime Invitational on Sunday.

Both events are important as the team continues its strong outdoor season. The Penn Relays are the oldest track and field competition in the country, and the Elis will be going head-to-head with some of the world's finest track and field athletes in front of tens of thousands of spectators. More than 60 countries across the globe have athletes scheduled to run at the meet, which includes races at all levels, ranging from high school to Olympic development. The meet is fairly selective, and only the Bulldogs' top athletes are making the trip to Philadelphia this week. The Yale Springtime Invitational, meanwhile, will provide the Elis with a chance to focus on regional competition while serving as meet hosts for the second consecutive weekend. Additionally, the meet serves as an opportunity for some of the younger athletes on the team to continue gaining competition experience at Yale's Dewitt Cuyler Athletic Complex—the site of this year's outdoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championships.

The Bulldogs will have athletes competing in three relay events and three individual events in Philadelphia. Competition for the Elis will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, when sophomore Duncan Tomlin takes to the track in the 3,000-Meter Steeplechase Championship. Tomlin emerged as Yale's specialist in the event during his freshman season, placing first against Harvard in his first time competing in the steeplechase at the collegiate level. Tomlin's success has continued this season, and he set a 3,000-meter steeplechase personal record (9:10.85) at the Stanford Invitational in early April.

Later Thursday night, four more Bulldogs will compete in the 5,000-Meter Championship. Sophomore Kevin Dooney figures to lead the way. The Dublin, Ireland, native ran a personal record 5,000-meter time of 14:26.52 (the 11th-fastest outdoor 5,000-meter time in school history) at last year's Penn Relays, placing 11th overall in an extremely talented field. Dooney has made great strides since then, running the fastest 5,000-meter race and second-fastest 3,000-meter race in Yale history during the most recent indoor season. Also competing in Thursday's race will be freshman Andre Ivankovic, senior Ryan Laemel and junior Isa Qasim. Laemel, the cross country captain, will be looking to make the most of what will be his first and final opportunity to compete at the Penn Relays. Ivankovic, meanwhile, has actually yet to compete in the 5,000-meters at the collegiate level but has enjoyed a strong season, taking first place in the 3,000-meters against Harvard just a couple weekends ago. Qasim will be running for just the second time at an outdoor meet this season, but, like the others, earned his spot at the meet through strong showings throughout the cross country and indoor track seasons. He set personal records in both the mile and 3,000-meters during the indoor season.

The Elis' 4x100-meter relay team will then begin competition just after noon the following day. The team—the members of which have not yet been officially announced—will be looking to run well enough in its heat to qualify for one of three final rounds scheduled for Saturday afternoon. At 2:25 p.m., the Elis will enter a team in the College Men's Distance Medley Championship of America. That event will be treated as a final round.

Soon after, at 3:00 p.m., sophomore Brendan Sullivan is slated to represent Yale in the eastern division of the pole vault. Sullivan will be looking to match or surpass his outdoor vault personal record of 15'9" (4.80m) or, even better, his overall personal record of 16'4.75" (5.00m). After a solid but injury-riddled freshman season, Sullivan has emerged this season as one of Yale's best pole vaulters in recent memory.

The Bulldogs will wrap up Friday's action with the 4x400 Heptagonal, which pits Yale against its seven Ivy League rivals in a relay.

Finally, senior James Shirvell will draw plenty of attention on Saturday afternoon, when he runs alongside 13 other athletes in the ultra-competitive Olympic Development Men's Mile Run. Most of those competing in the event will be older athletes representing professional track associations (such as the New Jersey New York Track Club) or who are endorsed by major athletic companies (like Adidas). Several members of the field have represented the U.S. on the international stage, and Shirvell's presence in the field is certainly a sign of the great success he has achieved throughout his four years at Yale. The team captain will be looking to ensure himself of a spot at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round, which funnels the top runners into the NCAA Division I Championships. 

The Elis' busy weekend will continue on Sunday at the Yale Springtime Invitational. Some of the athletes who compete in Philadelphia will likely rest on Sunday, and the meet will thus provide an opportunity for the team to showcase its depth.

Marc-Andre Alexandre will likely lead the way in the sprints. The star freshman ran an impressive 10.90 (wind-aided) in the 100-meter dash at the Mark Young Invitational last weekend. Senior Daniel Jones, sophomore Martin Tolentino and senior Nnamdi Udeh, meanwhile, have rounded out the Bulldogs' crew of short sprinters for much of the season, while freshman Chandler Crusan, junior Dylan Hurley and junior Mario Kranjac have represented the team in the longer 400-meter dash.

Some of Yale's other top middle-distance runners likely to run on Sunday include junior Michael Grace, sophomore Alexander McDonald, freshman James Randon and junior Jacob Sandry. The team's middle-distance squad is especially deep this year, and all four of these runners placed in the top 10 in either the 800-meter or 1,500-meter event last weekend.

The 110-meter hurdle event will likely belong to junior Daniel Kemp and freshman Austin Loewen, as per usual, while junior William Rowe (and possibly Kemp) will run in the 400-meter hurdles. The throw events figure to be the domain of senior John Oppenheimer, freshman Torren Peebles and freshman Luke Persichetti. Last weekend, all three competed in the shot put, Oppenheimer and Persichetti took part in the hammer throw and Peebles entered the javelin throw.

All entries for the Springtime Invitational could change, especially depending on which athletes end up competing in the three relay events the Elis are scheduled to take part in at the Penn Relays on Friday.

Live results (along with a schedule) for the Penn Relays will be available here all weekend. A schedule for the Springtime Invitational is accessible here. Full results will be posted on www.yalebulldogs.com following the conclusion of each day of competition.

Report by Zach Schloss '15, Yale Sports Publicity