Freshman Class Will Infuse Talent to Already Gifted Ranks
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The track and field season will begin on Dec. 4 when the Bulldogs host the annual Lidlifter Invitational at Coxe Cage. Although the Bulldogs lost only eight team members to graduation last year, the distance team had the most of these seniors. However, after the members of the cross country team take a well-deserved break after their season, the entire team, including distance runners, will look to find success on and around the track.
Middle Distance and Distance
The women's middle distance and distance team will return two NCAA qualifiers, including two-time All-American senior Kate Grace, who placed seventh in the NCAA 800-meter run finals last year with a time of 2:05.92. Grace, who holds the school record in the 800m and the 1500m outdoors, is also a four-time Ivy Champion in the 800-meter run (twice indoors and twice outdoors).
Grace was joined last year at the NCAA Championships by senior Anne Lovelace, who qualified in the 3000-meter steeplechase and has a personal best time in that event of 10:27.60.
"These are our two most accomplished returnees and we expect them to build on what they have already accomplished," said distance coach Mark Young '68.
Although some of the other middle distance runners have been plagued by injury in seasons past, Young expressed confidence that many of them would be up and running to start the winter season. Juniors Madeline Adams and Jacque Sahlberg, who both ran under five minutes in the mile in high school, should be able to make contributions soon and sophomore Nihal Kayali is fresh off an injury that impacted her last track and cross country seasons but has left her anxious to run this winter.
Young will count on some younger runners to perform well. Sophomore Elizabeth Marvin had an excellent cross country season as the team's top runner for much of the fall and will hope to improve on her time of 9:45 in the 3,000-meter run on the track. Junior Jennifer Downing is also coming off a strong cross country season and will compete in the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter runs. Freshmen Sarah Barry, Melissa Chapman and Liana Epstein should all make an impact in their events as well.
Sprints and Hurdles
Yale short sprinters will be lead this season by sophomore Adele Jackson-Gibson and junior Marieme Mbaye, both of whom were All-Ivy in the 100-meter dash last spring. Jackson-Gibson ran 12.20 for 7th place at Heps and Mbaye ran 12.35 to finish right behind her.
Longer sprints will be the domain of junior Gabriella Kelly and sophomore Allison Rue. They will, however, feel the loss of Claudia Duncan '10 to graduation. Duncan is the school record holder in the 400-meter dash and the 500-meter dash.
Head coach David Shoehalter, the Mark T. Young '68 Director of Cross Country and Track and Field, is very excited about the freshman additions to the sprinting team, citing Jenna Hessert, Kelsey Lin, Amanda Snajder and Tess Parent as rookies to watch.
Poggi will also represent the Bulldogs as the team's top pole vaulter. She will be joined at the pit by senior captain Eve King and freshman Emily Urciuoli, who was the top-ranked high school pole vaulter in New Jersey.
Jackson-Gibson is the team's best returning long jumper, looking to improve on her 10th-place finish at last year's indoor Heps. King, Parent and senior Emily Standish will also contribute to the long and triple jumps.
Senior Stephanie Scaramella, who was sixth at indoor Heps in the shot put as a sophomore, is back after a year abroad and will be an important thrower for the Bulldogs this year. Scaramella threw 12.83 meters to place herself on the all-time Yale list.
Last year's 4x100-meter relay team ran one of Yale's all-time top-10 times at outdoor Heps, finishing fourth in 47.22 seconds. Though Duncan, one of the relay members, graduated, the team returns the other three members and will look to freshman recruits to fill the gap.
The Bulldogs set a school record in the 4x400-meter relay last year, running 3:43.02 at outdoor Heps. Contributors for this year will include Grace, Rue and Hessert, among others.
The Bulldogs' 4x800-meter relay team was successful indoors and outdoors last year, placing fourth at Ivy League Championships in the winter and seventh at the Penn Relays in the spring. Returning members are sophomore Annelies Gamble, Grace and Kayali.
Overall, Coach Shoehalter is optimistic about the long season ahead of his team.
"We're probably a bit deeper than we were last year and our freshman class is looking very strong. We're hoping for an improvement over last year's performances," he said.
The season will kick-off with the Lidlifter Invitational, held on Dec. 4 at Coxe Cage.
Yale will host three more home meets during the indoor season. The College Invitational will take place on Jan. 15, right after winter break, and the Giegengack Invitational will be the weekend of Feb. 4-5. Harvard and Princeton will join Yale at home on Feb. 12 for a taste of the Ancient Eight rivalry before all three travel to Heptagonal Championships in New York City on Feb. 26 and 27. For qualifiers, ECAC Championships will be held at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston Mar. 5-6 and NCAA National Championships will finish off the indoor season Mar. 11-12 at College Station, Texas.
The outdoor season will begin on Mar. 19 when the Bulldogs travel to Williamsburg, Va., to compete in the William & Mary Tribe Invitational. Spring will also bring several home meets for Yale, the first on Apr. 16 against Harvard at the Dewitt-Cuyler Track. Next, the Springtime Invitational will also take place in New Haven on May 1, followed by Heptagonal Championships May 7-8. ECAC Championships will be held at Princeton May 13-15, NCAA First-Rounds will be held in Bloomington, Ind., May 27-28 and NCAA Championships will conclude the season in Des Moines, Iowa, June 8-11.
Report by Natalie Villa '13, Yale Sports Publicity