Feb. 7, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldog women's track and field team finished off competition on Saturday at the Giegengack Invitational with strong performances and fast times. While the meet was unscored, the Bulldogs had many impressive finishes against some of the toughest competition of the season. The team ended up with three victories over the two days of competition, multiple ECAC Championships qualifying performances and another school record in the 500-meter dash for junior Claudia Duncan.
For the Bulldogs, the second day of the Giegengack Invitational was a continuation of the success that the team achieved on Friday, the first day of competition. Topping off a strong first day of competition, the distance medley relay team won the Bulldogs' first event of the meet in an ECAC qualifying time of 11:41.63, almost more than 35 seconds ahead of the next nearest competitor. With momentum from that race carrying over to the second day of competition, it was no surprise that the Bulldogs were able to come out and run some very fast times.
For Duncan, the opportunity to run at the Giegengack Invitational was a chance to achieve the ECAC qualifying time that she missed making by only 11 one-hundredths of a second at the Lidlifter Invitational also hosted by Yale on the Frank Shorter '69 Track at Coxe Cage. Duncan, who was already the school record holder in the 500-yard dash, again improved on her time, setting a new Yale record of 1:13.92. Duncan started off the race in lane four, the outside lane. She was in second place after she cut in following the stagger, only steps behind the runner in first. Then, with around 150 meters in the race, Duncan began to make her move, passing Brown's Lucy Higgins on the outside while running the curve. Duncan never looked back, building a large lead in the remaining 150 meters of the race to win in a time of 1:13.92 while Higgins finished in 1:16.18. With the performance, Duncan went under the ECAC qualifying standard by more than two seconds. Sophomore Erika Mansson, who ran in the second heat of the event, was 11th with a time of 1:21.73.
Sophomore Kate Grace also turned in a very impressive performance in the mile. Grace, who qualified for and competed at the outdoor NCAA Championships in the 800-meter run as a freshman, ran a new personal best in the event in a time of 4:52.07 to place second. For Grace, this was an improvement on her previous personal record in the event by six seconds. Grace's performance was helped by the fast nature of the race. The winner, Lucy Van Dalen of Stony Brook, ran away with the event, running an incredibly impressive time of 4:40.26, breaking the old facility record by just less than three seconds and provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Grace was happy with her performance in the mile and enjoyed being part of the winning distance medley relay team on Friday, on which she ran the 1,200-meter leg.
"The meet was great for me and the mile was a personal record for me by six seconds," Grace said. "Erika Mansson was a rabbit part of the time, which really helped me, and then I ran the race alone for most of the time. I know that I have speed and I also know that I have endurance because of running the mile today and the 400-meter dash and 1,000-meter run earlier in the season. The distance medley relay also was great. I love competing in relays and like the whole team atmosphere that is involved."
More very strong performances came for the Bulldogs in the 3,000-meter run. The race, which was the longest event that the Bulldogs competed in at the meet, had four Bulldog athletes place in the top 13 runners. Senior Kelli Buck led the way for the Bulldogs, placing fifth in the event in a time of 9:57.97. Her time was good enough to qualify her for the ECAC Championships. Senior Bevin Peters was ninth in the event (10:09.36), while freshman Anne Lovelace was 11th (10:14.86) and freshman Jennifer Downing was 13th (10:18.55). Buck and Peters started the race off strongly, running behind a pack of three Providence College runners who went on to take the top three spots in the race. Buck and Peters ran in a pack together for much of the race, along with two other athletes, before the field got more spread out in the closing laps. With 400 meters left in the race, Buck and Peters were only separated by 20 meters. Then, with around 300 meters left in the race, Buck started a strong surge that allowed her to pass the runner in front of her. She ended up creating a large lead that she continued to expand until the finish, when she finished more than six seconds ahead of the runner she passed. The event was impressively won by Providence's Danette Doetzel in a fast time of 9:33.87. Doetzel was second at the NCAA Championships in the 10,000-meter run last year.
For Buck, the race, the last of her career at Coxe Cage, was a good experience.
"I am really happy with my race and how it went today," Buck said. "The strong competition we had in the race made it all the better and helped push me. I'm a senior and this was my last race at Coxe Cage, so I am a little bit nostalgic. Still, it was nice to get an ECAC qualifying time."
The 60-meter dash was also a good event for the Bulldogs. Unlike the other running events, however, it was a long process, with the athletes first competing in a preliminary round before the top eight athletes advanced to finals. Freshman Alexa Monti ranked fifth (7.95) and sophomore Becky Brown ranked seventh (8.10) based on preliminary heat times. In the finals, both athletes maintained their positions, but improved their times, with Monti running 7.88 and Brown 8.02.
In the other event with preliminary and final rounds, the 60-meter hurdles, senior captain Jennifer Lin placed ninth with a time of 9.58, just missing making the final round by three-one-hundredths. Sophomore Eve King was 13th in the event (10.04).
Junior Stephany Reaves was the sole Bulldog competing in the 1000-meter run. She placed 14th in a time of 3:01.47.
Two Bulldog athletes placed in the top 15 in the 800-meter run. Senior Kathryn Schleckser was 11th (2:23.22) while King was 14th (2:25.63).
In ways, the team saved the best for last and impressively came away with a win in the last event of the day. The Bulldogs picked up another ECAC qualifying time in the 4x400-meter relay by winning in a time of 3:51.48, more than two seconds under the qualifying standard. With the win, the Bulldogs swept the relay events at the Giegengack Invitational.
The Bulldogs also had a day of some impressive performances in the field events. Junior Bailey Carroll had the best finish in the field events for the Bulldogs, taking fifth place in the pole vault with a height of 3.05 meters.
Sophomore Stephanie Scaramella also did well for the Bulldogs in the field events, taking sixth place in the shot put with a throw of 12.45 meters.
The top triple jumper for the team, sophomore Emily Standish, finished 12th with a jump of 10.13 meters.
Mark T. Young '68 Director of Track and Field Mark Young was pleased with the team's performance.
"I think that we saw a lot of improvement in this meet," Young said. "While we have seen improvement each week, I feel that the performances here have shown that we have improved more than we have in past weeks. Specifically, Claudia Duncan setting another school record in the 500-meter dash was great and Kate Grace ran a very good race in the mile."
The team is next in competition on Feb. 14 at Harvard for the annual Harvard-Yale Princeton meet. The team will then again head to Harvard on Feb. 28 and Mar. 1 for the Heptagonal Championships.
Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity