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Yale Ninth at ECAC Championship, Eight Athletes Score

Nihal Kayali. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Nihal Kayali. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Kayali Wins the One Mile Run

BOSTON – The Bulldogs combined for 25 points this weekend at the ECAC Championship to tie for ninth place with Princeton. Each individual athlete as well as the distance medley relay team scored in their respective events. Overall, more than 60 teams competed for ECAC glory this weekend. Despite finishing eighth at Ivy League Championships just last weekend, the Bulldogs redeemed themselves by besting Brown, Penn and Dartmouth with five outstanding performances. Connecticut won the meet with 96.50 points, while Cornell took second with 52 points.

Sophomore Nihal Kayali delivered the top Yale performance of the day by winning the one mile run. She bested freshman Olivia Burne from Stony Brook University by almost three seconds to take the win in 4:47.68. Burne finished in 4:50.33. Kayali's effort earned the team 10 points, catapulting them into a three-way tie for sixth place after nine events. Kayali has been a stand-out in the mile all winter, so there is no better way to conclude her indoor track season.

Directly after the one mile run, junior Gabriella Kelly sprinted to eighth place in the final of the 400-meter dash. She finished in 57.56, and just barely edged freshman Tiffany Daley of Connecticut (57.69) for a scoring position and one point in the team totals.

Sophomore Annelies Gamble emerged out of very tight competition for the 800-meter run in fifth place. Her 2:11.39 was 0.20 seconds out of fourth place and just 0.05 seconds ahead of the sixth-place finisher. Gamble was rewarded for her lean at the finish line with four points to maintain the team's seventh-place standing with 21 total points.

Finally, freshman Sarah Barry finished off the Bulldogs' red-letter day with a fifth-place finish in the 1,000-meter run to bring home four points. Barry's personal best effort of 2:51.80 brought the Yale total up to 25 points, good for eighth place after 18 events.

The distance medley relay team placed third in the first event of day two to garner six points. The team comprising freshman Melissa Chapman, sophomore Allison Rue, senior Kate Grace and sophomore Elizabeth Marvin finished in 11:29.60, which is a season-best time for Yale and the second-fastest in school history. Their mark is the 50th-fastest time in the nation this season. 

Even though Chapman and Marvin do not ordinarily race in the 1200-meter run and the one mile run, respectively, they both turned in impressive times, said distance coach Mark Young '68.

"It was over a three second improvement for Millie [Chapman] and a six or seven second improvement for Elizabeth. Allie [Rue] ran very well and Kate was solid," he said.

Grace did not compete in an individual event in order to rest for the NCAA Division I Championship that will take place next week. She will probably be competing in the meet, although the final list of competitors will be released early this week.

"It is a nice way to finish up the indoor season," said Young of the meet, pointing out that several athletes earned personal best times over the course of the championship. It was a great opportunity for younger athletes to gain racing experience as the team looks towards its outdoor season, set to begin later this month. Young cited Kayali's race as a result of experience: "Tactically it was much better" than she has run in the past, he commented.

He also pointed to the success of the distance medley relay team; with three of the four athletes either freshmen or sophomores, and Bulldogs who would not ordinarily run the race, "it is an indication of depth" that they were able to run the second-fastest time in school history.

Though the ECAC Championship concludes the season for many Bulldogs, Grace still hopes to prolong her season by competing in either the one mile run or the 800-meter run at next weekend's national championships. Currently, she has run the 13th-fastest time in the country in the 800-meter run and the 15th-fastest in the one mile run. Ten athletes have automatically qualified in the 800-meter run, while only five are already guaranteed a spot at the meet in the one mile run. Last year, 17 runners vied for each title at the indoor national championship.

Report by Natalie Villa '13, Yale Sports Publicity