NEW YORK – The Yale women's track and field team wrapped up its second day at the Heptagonal Championships this afternoon at the Armory. Harvard was crowned the Ivy League Champion with 129 points, over Penn's 109.33 points and Columbia's 97.33 points. The Bulldogs racked up a total of 26 points for the weekend.
Seniors Meredith Rizzo, Frances Schmiede and Emily Waligurski were truly the key athletes for the Bulldogs at this championship meet. The three seniors each put together their own masterful performance in their middle-distance events to earn 17 of the team's points. Rizzo, on her end, ran a smart race in the mile, sticking close to the front throughout the whole contest. The race itself had a very quick second half, with Rizzo running around 2:16 for the closing half. Despite a late surge from another athlete, Rizzo was able to hold her off and take second place with a time of 4:47.20. Sophomore Ellie Atkinson also had a strong run in this final, finishing eighth with a time of 4:53.43.
Meanwhile, in the 800-meter final, Schmiede put up a strong effort in the 800-meter run for the second-place finish. Schmiede was boxed in early on in the race but was fortunately able to work around the pack to position herself well on the closing lap. Though in fourth place, she worked the outside lane and managed to catch two other athletes. Yet since she had to cover more distance, Schmiede might have lost just a few ticks of a second -- and that put her in second. Regardless, she had a great race and a well-earned eight points for the Bulldogs with a final time of 2:09.37.
Waligurski ran in a very tight tactical 1,000-meter race. She led the race early on through the first three laps to split 1:45.27 through the first 600 meters. Yet last year's 1,000-meter champion stormed past Waligurski, picking up a lot of momentum over the last 300 meters. Waligurski was able to stick with the pack to earn the Bulldogs a point with her sixth-place time of 2:51.07.
The three seniors then helped contribute to a third-place 4x800-meter relay squad near the end of the meet that earned the Bulldogs six more points. Rizzo kicked off the race with a strong 2:12.82 leg, handing it off to senior Delaney FitzPatrick in first place. FitzPatrick ran a fairly strong leg as well, splitting at around 2:13. The race then was in the hands of Waligurski, who was able to keep the Bulldogs in the chase for the anchor leg. Schmiede grabbed the baton and started closing the gap between her and the next two runners. She overtook a strong Columbia relay and came close to taking down the second-place Penn relay squad. Her split of 2:08.617 was the strongest of the squad and earned the team a total time of 8:46.10. That time is the third-best ever achieved by a Bulldogs relay in Yale history.
All in all, the trio of powerful middle-distance seniors Rizzo, Schmiede and Waligurski put up an impressive 23 points this afternoon.
The team's distance medley relay of underclassmen also performed very well this afternoon, offering the team some hope for a very bright future. It featured sophomore Atkinson kicking things off. She handed the baton off to freshman Lillian Enes, who ran a ferocious 400-meter leg of 57.37. If it were an individual performance, Ennis' time would have been among the fastest in Yale history. Freshman Gemma Shepherd capped off the relay with an incredibly impressive time in the mile, finishing in 4:43.88. It parallels one of the best times ever run in Yale history as well. The young phenom, who had just placed fifth in the 3,000-meter race yesterday, proved herself to be a powerful asset in Yale's future. The team crossed the finish line in 11:32.72 in sixth place for another point.
The team will continue championship season with the ECAC Championships this coming weekend. Meanwhile, Schmiede will head to the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. A preview of both of these events will be posted in the upcoming week as the date approaches.
Recap by Ariel A. Sánchez '19, Yale Sports Publicity