Bulldogs Head to Heptagonal Championships

Bulldogs Head to Heptagonal Championships

Dartmouth Hosts Ivy League Championships

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale women's track and field team will be heading to Hanover, N.H., this weekend for the most important event of the winter: the Heptagonal Championships. All eight Ivy League schools will be competing at Dartmouth's  Leverone Field House, and it should be an exciting chance for the Bulldogs to improve upon last year's finish.

Yale has seen most of the other Ivy League teams so far this season; the Bulldogs competed against Harvard and Princeton at their last meet, when Princeton placed first, Harvard second and Yale third. At a tri-meet in January, the Bulldogs competed against Dartmouth and Columbia. Columbia was first, Yale second and Dartmouth third. The Brown women came to New Haven for the unscored Giegengack Invitational. Yale has not competed against Cornell or Penn.

The Bulldogs have been improving over the course of the season, and their two-week break before Heps should have given them time to prepare for the championships.

Junior Kate Grace is a favorite in the 800-meter run. She won the Heps title in the event both indoors and outdoors in 2009 (and then, of course, went on to compete at NCAAs, earning an All-American title indoors). She won Heps in 2:07.83 last year, and her personal best is 2:04.72 (from March 2009), but the fastest she has run so far in 2010 is 2:11.80. She has not had very much strong competition in her races yet this season, though. Still, when defending her position she will have to watch out; her season's best is the fourth-fastest in the Ivy League this season. The runners with faster times this season include a Harvard freshman (2:09.44) and two Cornell runners (2:09.82 and 2:11.56). She was also the fourth-fastest runner going into Heps last year, so such rankings are easily disrupted. She is also ranked fifth in the mile run, with a time of 4:54.61. She is the second-fastest 1,000-meter runner in the Ivy League this year, but the event is not contested at Heps.

Senior Claudia Duncan will be a force to be reckoned with in the middle distances. She has the eighth-fastest time in the Ivy League in the 500-meter run, but the event is not contested at Heps. Last year she barely missed qualifying for the finals in the 400-meter dash, and she will hope to do so this year. She will also be an important member of Yale's relay teams.

In a much longer distance, senior Alexandra Cadicamo is poised to perform well. She is the tenth-fastest in the Ivy League in the 3,000-meter run from her 9:48.52 performance just two weeks ago, a huge personal best. She has made great strides this year, and hopefully she will be able to keep it up in Hanover.

Freshman Adele Jackson-Gibson is a threat in two areas: more prominently in the 60-meter dash, for which her season best is 7.76, making her the seventh-fastest runner in the League this year. Last year the slowest time that qualified for finals in the event was 7.71, but the field seems to be a bit slower this year. Jackson-Gibson has also been a strong competitor for Yale in the long jump. Her season best is 5.56m (18'3"), but she jumped as far as 18'10" in high school.

A stronger competitor in the field events for Yale is junior Emily Standish, who competes in the high jump. She has jumped the fourth-highest in the Ivy League along with six other women who have jumped as high (5'5"). The Columbia runner who has jumped the highest has jumped 5'11.5". Standish has a very good chance of scoring for Yale. This has been a much better season for her than last year. Her freshman year she was second in the event at outdoor Heps.

Yale has the chance to do very well in either of the relays, depending on who runs in it. Last year Yale won the 4x800-meter relay with a very exciting finish: Grace, who was running anchor, was seventh when she received the baton and began steadily working her way through the competition. Also part of that record-making team was senior Stephany Reaves, as well as two runners who have now graduated. Freshman Annalies Gamble is one exceptionally strong contender in the middle distances who should be a part of the relay teams, and has a chance of doing well in the individual events as well.

In all, Yale has several high points to look forward to during the competition this weekend. Women's events start at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and include many preliminary rounds in the afternoon. On Sunday running events start at noon and will continue until 4 p.m. A complete schedule of events can be found here. More information about Heps and live updates during the day will be found at Hepstrack.com. Results will be posted at LancerTiming.com.

Report by Kyle Eichner, Yale Sports Publicity