March 21, 2013

Outdoor Track and Field Season Carries Fresh Opportunity

Bulldogs Compete in William and Mary's Tribe Invitational 

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—After a week spent recharging from the indoor season, Yale track and field is ready to begin its outdoor season with the Tribe Invitational Meet this Saturday, hosted by the college of William and Mary in Virginia. The Bulldogs have been training as a team at the college in Williamsburg since the start of the week.

Eight of the team's standout members are just off performances at the ECAC Indoor Championship Meet. The majority of the team's qualifiers were long distance runners. Senior Jennifer Donnelly broke her personal best in the 5,000-meter run at the meet. Meanwhile, four Bulldogs competed in the 3,000-meter race. Elizabeth Marvin, also competing in her last season, placed 9th in the event, leading the pack of Bulldogs with a season best. Sophomore Anna Demaree also gained a personal best in the race. Overall, Yale's top distance runner during the indoor season was senior Nihal Kayali, who claimed a personal best in the 3,000-meter run. In addition, Kayali's 1-mile performance in the Columbia Qualifier meet—her last meet of the indoor season—was just over one second off her personal best. 

During the outdoor season, Yale distance runners will get the chance to compete in an additional event not held during the indoor season, the 10,000-meter run. This event doubles the distance of the longest event raced during indoor track. Marvin will undoubtedly be eager to race in the 10,000-meter run this season, having landed the fifth spot last year on Yale's top-ten lists for outdoor track and field. Unfortunately, Yale's long distance runners will be unable to compete in any events longer than the 1,500-meter run this weekend, as the Tribe Invitational is not offering these races.

The outdoor season will bring some additional changes for the team. While the typical indoor track is approximately 200-meters around, completely enclosed, and banked to allow for easier turning around the sharp corners, the team will now race on 400-meter tracks that are unbanked and open to the outdoors. These conditions typically allow for faster times than those seen in the indoor season. 

A few select Bulldogs have newly-won titles to defend going into the outdoor season. Freshman Karleh Wilson, sophomore Emily Cable, and junior Amanda Snajder all broke Yale school records in their respective events. Wilson claimed the record in the shot put. Although she has competed only in the shot put and weight throw so far this year, throwing events of the outdoor season will allow her to compete in any of four events: the shot put, javelin throw, hammer throw and discus. Junior Emily Urciuoli is also likely to excel in the field events this year, as she has been the team's top contender in the pole vault during the indoor season. Urciuoli already holds the third spot on the top-ten list for the event, while sophomore Catherine Shih claims the fifth position.

Cable had an outstanding indoor season, breaking the school record in the 400-meter dash. She will likely continue to compete in the event, now with the added time advantage brought by an outdoor track. In addition, senior captain Allison Rue will have the chance to improve upon her 400-meter best, already a notable time that landed her the fifth spot on the top-ten lists last year. Rue also makes the lists in the 800-meter run and 4x400-meter relay. 

In addition to the differences in events already noted between indoor and outdoor track, changes will also be seen in the distances of the hurdles and shortest sprints. Outdoor track does not include the 60-meter dash or hurdles, instead, competitors race for 100 meters. The 400-meter hurdles and 4x100-meter relay events are also added. As these distances are those typically raced during high school, two freshmen will have the opportunity to compete in their best events during the outdoor season.

Sydney Cureton's 100-meter dash high school best of 11.90 would easily place her on Yale's top-ten list for the event. During high school, the time secured Cureton the Michigan state record in the event.  When asked about the opportunities brought by the new season, Cureton remarked that she was excited to compete in such a familiar event.  She further explained, "Though the indoor season was somewhat frustrating, we all know there are things we can improve upon in the outdoor season and we're looking forward to the chance to prove that."

Additionally, fellow freshman Mackenzie Mathews—who bolstered the team with her performance in the 60-meter hurdles during the outdoor season—will now get the chance to compete in the 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles. Her high school best of 14.53 in the 100-meter hurdles would also secure her a spot on the top-ten lists, should she repeat it this season. 

Finally, Snajder should be one to watch as the new season begins, as she is a multi-talented athlete who competes in both running and field events. She held back none of these assorted talents when she broke the indoor school record in the pentathlon during the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. Snajder already claims two spots on the top-ten lists for outdoor track, in the 100-meter hurdles and heptathlon.

Saturday's meet will begin at 9:00 a.m. with the men's throwing events, and continue shortly after with the women's events. A complete schedule is available here and results will be posted at http://www.directathletics.com/meets/track/26556.html when available.

Report by Maria Seravalli '16, Yale Sports Publicity