Two Advance on First Day of NCAA Competition

Nihal Kayali. (photo by Tim O'Dowd)
Nihal Kayali. (photo by Tim O'Dowd)

Grace Wins Her Heat of the 800-Meter Run

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Three Bulldogs competed in two events on the first day of the NCAA First Round. This meet culls the fastest athletes from the east region, where they race for the chance to compete at the NCAA National Championship next month in Des Moines, Iowa. Two Yale athletes advanced to compete in further rounds of this meet later in the weekend.

Sophomore Nihal Kayali competed in the first round of the 1,500-meter run, finishing second in her heat in 4:23.72. Though she entered as the 21st seed, only nine athletes ran faster than her today, leaving her with the 10th-fastest time going into Saturday's semi-finals. These next races are considered the national semi-finals because they will decide who competes in the finals at the NCAA National Championship. The national meet will also have preliminaries and a final. Kayali's season-best is 4:21.98, leaving her with plenty of potential to place well and advance later in the week. The semi-final races will be split into two heats of 12 runners each, with the top five from each heat as well as the next two fastest advancing to the National Championship.

Later in the day, sophomore Annelies Gamble and All-American senior Kate Grace competed in the 800-meter run. The top three from each heat as well as the next six fastest advanced to Friday's semi-finals. Gamble placed sixth in the first heat in 2:10.55, but was also more competitive in the field than her initial seed would have predicted. She entered with the 45th-fastest time, but was the 37th-fastest athlete after each of the six races concluded.

Grace won the final heat of the event in 2:08.34, which was the 19th-fastest time on the day. The fastest preliminary was run in 2:06.21, a time that is well within Grace's capabilities; her season-best is 2:05.48. She won her heat easily, almost a second ahead of fellow Ivy Leaguer Victoria Strickland of Penn. On Friday, the 24 qualifiers will be split into three heats. The top three athletes from each of these plus the next three fastest overall will advance to Des Moines.

Grace will be the only Yale athlete competing tomorrow. Her gun goes off at 6:30 p.m. Kayali and sophomore Elizabeth Marvin (5,000-meter run) will both compete on Saturday. Live results and video are available on the meet website. Results will be posted on at the end of the day.

Report by Natalie Villa '13, Yale Sports Publicity