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Bulldogs Take on Valentine Invitational Friday

Ellie Atkinson and Gemma Shepherd (Photo by Stephen Fritzer)
Ellie Atkinson and Gemma Shepherd (Photo by Stephen Fritzer)

NEW HAVEN, Conn.  – The Yale women's track and field team heads to Beantown for the David Hemery Valentine Invitational on Friday, hosted by Boston University. As their last meet before the Ivy League Heptagonal Championship, the Bulldogs are looking to have some big performances this Friday evening. Hundreds of athletes will compete at what is by far the largest and arguably the most competitive meet the Bulldogs have competed at thus far. Competitors will span the collegiate, amateur and pro levels. Thus, it is no surprise that the Bulldogs will send their strongest athletes to feel a faster-paced race. 

Senior Frances Schmiede will definitely be among one of the many Bulldogs to watch for this weekend. It was at this meet last season where Schmiede set her current record of 4:37.77 with a monstrous performance in the mile run. At the HYP meet a couple of weeks ago, she broke a longtime Yale record in the 1,000-meter run, as well as the Ivy League record. It would be no surprise to see her perform in the mile to capitalize on her own momentum. Furthermore, if Schmiede wants to make it to the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, she has to rank in the top 16 nationally. The current 16th best time in the nation is 4:38.80. 

The Bulldogs will likely have many of their top guns compete in the mile run on Friday. This includes senior Meredith Rizzo, who has had a strong season for the Bulldogs thus far. She has set new personal bests in both the 800- and 1,000-meter runs, placing first and second in those performances. Currently Rizzo holds a personal best of 4:44.11, which is definitely among the best in Yale history. With this just being her third race of the season, she could run a new personal best. 

Meanwhile, senior Emily Waligurski will compete for the Bulldogs in the 800-meter run. Waligurski has also improved in the middle-distance 800- and 1,000-meter runs. At last week's HYP meet, Waligurski finished third in the ferociously fast 1,000-meter race where Schmiede broke the record. Waligurski has among one of the top times in Yale history. This week she will most likely compete in either event looking for another personal best. 

In the mile run at the HYP meet last week, sophomore Ellie Atkinson and freshman Gemma Shepherd split first and second places with just a few hundredths of a second separating the two. Though it was just Atkinson's first race of the season, Shepherd has had stunning performances in both the 1,000-meter and mile runs. This time around, Shepherd will most likely compete in the 3,000-meter run while Atkinson will compete in the mile run. In high school, Shepherd was among the top in England, with a strong personal best hovering around 9:27.  She will toe the line alongside freshman Lauren Chapey and Jane Miller among others. In total, the team will have at least five in the mile run and the 3,000-meter run. 

Freshman Sydney Holmes is definitely someone to watch out for this weekend as she seeks to break the 60-meter hurdles record. The standout rookie has run a time of 8.77s, just a few hundredths of a second away from the all-time Yale record set in 2015. With a competitive environment this weekend, Holmes could inch closer. She will toe the line alongside sophomores Alexandra Lee and Aja Thorpe. Lee and Holmes will both compete in the 200-meter dash, but Lee will also probably triple up with a stint in the 60-meter dash.

Also competing the 200-meter dash is freshman Lillian Enes, who has fared well in the 200- and 500-meter dashes. This week Enes will double up in the 200- and 400-meter dashes in what could end up being a pair of very powerful performances. 

Finally, senior captain Kate Simon will compete in the weight throw alongside sophomore Evelyn Roberts. Simon has done incredibly well for the Bulldogs, logging top-three finishes in the seven events she has competed in, including three wins. Roberts, on her part, earned a new personal best at the Giegengack Invitational in a solid fifth-place performance. 

The meet kicks off early Friday afternoon and will run up until potentially quite late at night. Results will be posted as they become available on

Report by Ariel A. Sánchez '19, Yale Sports Publicity