February 29, 2008

Bulldogs Travel to Ithaca for the Heptagonal Championships

Feb. 29, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - As the indoor track season winds down, the competition is heating up for the Bulldogs. This weekend marks the beginning of the championship season, which commences with the Indoor Heptagonal Championships, or "the Heps." The meet-this year hosted by Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y.-brings together all eight Ivies to vie for a championship title.

At the 2007 Indoor Heps, Princeton came out on top, edging out Cornell to win the team title, 154 to 151. Yale placed sixth with 47 points. The Bulldogs have already beaten Dartmouth, Columbia and Harvard in league competitions earlier this season, however, and they look to continue this success into the post-season.

This year, Princeton and Cornell are front-runners once again, both with deep teams across the breadth of events. So far this season, Princeton already has five athletes who have provisionally qualified for the NCAA national meet to be held in two weeks; Cornell is not far behind, with four provisionally-qualified athletes. Nevertheless, an upset at the Heps for the team title is not out of the question.

An individual to watch in both this weekend's competition and the upcoming weeks is Princeton junior Michael Maag, who has already run 4:00.43 in the mile and 7:56.4 in the 3,000-meters. Both of these times rank Maag fourth on the all-time list for any Heps athlete at any meet, and rank him first in the Ivy League for 2008. Last year, Maag placed second in both events: Columbia senior Liam Boylan-Pett passed Maag on the final lap to win the mile in 4:08.59, and teammate David Nightingale took the 3,000-meter run, three seconds ahead of Maag.

Yale returns to the Heps this year looking to improve upon last year's result, with the help of accomplished seniors Victor Cheng and Dan O'Brien, among others. Cheng placed fourth in the 60-meter dash last year in 6.91, and O'Brien finished third in the 60-meter hurdles in 8.21. The Bulldogs also return three of four members of their third place 4x400-meter relay team in addition to a fourth place 4x800-meter team.

Cheng once again ranks near the top of the Ivy-League, with a 6.87 in the 60-meter dash, the second-best time of any Ivy athlete this season. O'Brien also continues last year's success with a fifth-place ranking in the 60-meter hurdles.

In the middle-distance and distance events, some newer faces could be among the top contributors. Sophomore Chris Labosky is ranked fourth in the 1,000-meter run in 2:25.54, coming off a convincing win at the triangular meet versus Harvard and Princeton. Junior Jared Bell is ranked fifth in the mile run with his time of 4:08.07 from the Giegengack Invitatonal. Another junior, Murat Kayali, currently ranks fifth in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 14:34.44.

Yale's relays also look strong this year: the 4x400 meter relay ranks third in the league with a time of 3:17.09, the 4x800 meter relay also ranks ranked third with 7:41.03 and the Distance Medley relay ranks second with their time of 9:59.07.

Sophomore Eric DePalo is the lone Bulldog with a first place ranking by virtue of his 5.00m effort in the pole vault earlier this season. Also in the field events, the Bulldogs look to junior Samuel Fox in the high jump (fourth, 2.04m) and Jeffrey Lachman in the throws.

The meet scoring awards ten points for first place, eight for second, six for third, four for fourth, two for fifth and one for sixth.

The meet will take place on Mar. 1st and 2nd, with all finals in the running events taking place on Sunday the 2nd (with the exception of the 3,000-meter run). For a complete schedule of events, click here. Further information about Heps-including updated results during the meet-can be found at http://therelays.blogspot.com.

Report by Bevin Peters '09, Yale Sports Publicity

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