December 1, 2011

Track & Field Kicks Off 2011-2012 Season

Team Hosts Season-Opening Meet

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Yale women's track and field squad will begin its season this Saturday when it hosts the annual Yale Season Opener, an un-scored competition that will allow athletes to see how their training has progressed so far this fall. The track and field season, with meets from December until May, is one of the longest of any team here at Yale, so mental toughness is just as important as physical strength. Cross country runners, who wrapped their season on Nov. 12 at the NCAA Regional meet, will take a break before diving into competition with the rest of their squad in January. The team lost seven seniors to graduation last spring. Two competed in the distance races, four in field events, and one in the middle distance. This year's seven freshmen will try to fill their shoes.

Throws

The Bulldogs return several top throwers from last year, including juniors Antonia Renker and Natalie Wedell. They will be joined by freshman Korbin Richards, who, according to head coach David Shoehalter, the Mark T. Young '68 Director of Cross Country and Track and Field, should be able to make an impact in each of the throwing events.

Jumps

Sophomore pole vaulter Emily Urciuoli, who is currently third all-time at Yale in the pole vault indoors and outdoors, will be a strong contender in that event, as will freshman Catherine Shih. Junior Jenna Poggi has also competed in the pole vault for Yale in the past, and is fourth all-time.

Returning junior Adele Jackson-Gibson (long jump) and sophomores Beata Fiszer, Teresa Parent and Kristen Proe (triple jump) have all made names for themselves in their respective horizontal jump events. Freshmen Elle Brunsdale, Emily Cable and Alisha Jordan will also compete in the horizontal events.  Shoehalter named Cable as an athlete with talents in multiple events, which means that she will be a prime candidate for the pentathlon and heptathlon. Poggi has also competed in these multi-event competitions for Yale. One or more of these athletes will hopefully compete in the high jump as well.

Distance/Middle Distance

The Yale distance squad is coming off a very successful cross country season. They placed fourth at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships and sixth at the NCAA Regional meet, marking the team's best results since 2005. Sophomores Melissa Chapman and Liana Epstein, juniors Caitlin Hudson, Nihal Kayali, Elizabeth Marvin and Jacque Sahlberg and freshman Kira Garry were all instrumental during that run.

Senior Madeline Adams, sophomore Sarah Barry, sophomore Wendy DeWolf, junior Jennifer Donnelly, senior Jennifer Downing, junior Victoria Flannery, junior Annelies Gamble, junior Phoebe Gaston, senior Kristin Johnson, sophomore Clare Kane, senior Anne Lovelace, sophomore Rachel O'Driscoll and sophomore McLane Ritzel will also compete for Yale in distance events.

The middle distance crew will feel the loss of All-American Kate Grace '11 to graduation, but sophomore Katie Chockley and freshman Sarah Eckinger will step up to fill the void. Gamble and Kayali were successful in middle distance events last year as well; they qualified for the NCAA First Round meet in the 800-meter run and the 1,500-meter run, respectively.

Sprints

Despite losing several athletes to injury last season, this year's sprinters will look to stay healthy on the track. Senior captain Gabriella Kelly, senior Alexa Monti, junior Allison Rue and senior Emily Shulan will lead the Yale sprinters this season. Sophomore Jenna Hessert, Jackson-Gibson, sophomore Kelsey Lin and senior Marieme Mbaye are returning sprinters.

Freshman Ashleigh Delemos, junior Dakota McCoy, Poggi and sophomore Amanda Snajder are the team's hurdling core, coming off of personal bests last season in the 100-meter hurdles and the 400-meter hurdles.

Relays

The Bulldogs will have a deep pool of talent from which to draw legs for the 4x100 meter relay, the 4x400 meter relay, and the 4x800 meter relay, as well as the sprint and distance medley relays. For the sprint relays, Shoehalter named freshmen Brunsdale and Delemos as potential contributors. Hessert, Kelly, Lin, Monti, Poggi, Rue and Shulan will all be options for Shoehalter as well.

Longer relays could see contributions from Barry, Chapman, Gamble, Kayali and Marvin.

Saturday's meet will be a chance for the team to see how their training is progressing, said Shoehalter.

"At this point of the year, we're coming off a very high volume of training, so we're not very sharp at the moment. But I would expect some great competitive efforts from all of the athletes, who've been practicing since mid-September. We're continuing to train hard as we head toward the winter break and the indoor and outdoor seasons that follow," he commented.

The Yale Season Opener will begin at 9:00 a.m. with the field events. Track events will begin at 11:15 a.m. and conclude at 4:45 p.m. Buses for spectators will leave from Payne Whitney for Coxe Cage every 15 minutes. Results will be posted on www.yalebulldogs.com and www.coolrunning.com.

Report by Natalie Villa '13, Yale Sports Publicity