Yale and Harvard Defeat Oxford/Cambridge Team

Claudia Duncan.

April 10, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale hosted the 42nd biennial Yale-Harvard vs. Oxford-Cambridge meet Friday on the DeWitt-Cuyler track. Joining forces with the rival Cantabs, the Bulldogs pulled off an impressive 12-7 victory over the combined British team. This is the 10th Naughton Trophy that the American women have won since they joined men in the competition, which is the oldest continuous international amateur competition in the world.

The meet was scored using the British system, in which the victor of each event is awarded one point. Either a Yale or Harvard competitor won 12 of the 19 events of the afternoon. Eleven Yale athletes competed for the women.

Unlike most races, which can have 30 or more people running at once, Friday a maximum of four athletes competed in each individual event: two British and two American.

The Bulldogs had some very impressive races Friday. Senior Bevin Peters started off the afternoon with a great performance for Yale in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, winning easily in 10:50.48 - a personal best. That places her only .23 seconds above the NCAA regional qualifying standard.

In the 400-meter dash, junior Claudia Duncan also had an impressive first-place finish. Her time of 56.26 seconds is just over the ECAC qualifying standard. Duncan set school records in the 500-meter dash indoors this winter at the ECAC Championships, and she seems poised to run well this spring in this similar distance.

Sophomore Kate Grace ran in the 800-meter run outdoors for the first time this season, winning first place for the American team. Grace competed in this event in the NCAA Championships last spring, and also indoors this March, earning her All-American honors. Her time Friday of 2:08.40 set a meet record and already qualifies her for the NCAA regional championships in May.

Senior Jennifer Lin won both the 100- and 400-meter hurdles Friday, in times of 15.47 and 1:02.04, respectively. The later time qualifies her for ECAC championships.

Lin, Duncan and Grace, with Harvard runner Thea Lee, made up the American team that placed first in the 4x400 meter relay. The women finished in 3:48.89, setting a meet record.

The Bulldogs had some very well qualified competition. Senior Kelli Buck may not have won the 1,500-meter run, but she got to be part of a field that included Rhodes Scholar Michelle Sikes. Sikes is running for Oxford while she is studying there, but went to Wake Forest in the United States and won the indoor and outdoor NCAA Championships in the 5,000-meter run in 2007. She trained for the U.S. Track and Field Olympic team time trials last year, but could not compete due to injury.

Though Yale had some competitors it has never seen before, it was also running with some familiar athletes. The Bulldogs know the Cantabs very well as opponents.

"We know them because of how many times we have raced against each other over the years," Lin explained. Harvard athletes got to see a different side of Yale than they usually see at The Game. Though there was a lot of friendly camaraderie Friday afternoon, it was also a chance to prepare for next weekend's meet at Harvard.

"We can see what is in store," Lin said. "They didn't race all of their best runners, and we didn't race everyone either, but we could get a glimpse of some of what they have."

Harvard's Claire Richardson competed very well in the 1,500-meter run, following Sikes by less than a second. At the end of February Richardson won the 5,000-meter run at the indoor Heptagonal Championships, for which she earned first-team All-Ivy honors.

The American 4x100-meter relay team, which won in 48.66, consisted of three Harvard runners and Yale freshman Alexa Monti. Harvard's team was second-team All-Ivy last year, but Yale's relay team will be tough competition for them next weekend. The Bulldogs finished in a time of 48.29 - faster than Harvard's showing today - despite poor conditions last weekend at Colonial Relays.

Saturday Yale will get to see what Ivy League rivals Penn and Princeton have in store this season at the annual tri-meet between the schools. The meet will also be in New Haven on Yale's DeWitt-Cuyler Track.

Penn graduated many of its top runners last year, but Princeton has a strong team that includes first-team All-Ivy athletes in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter runs, the 3,000-meter steeplechase, the pole vault and shot put.

Saturday will be a chance for the Bulldogs to see how they measure up against these two teams, and to get a sense for how everyone will do at the Heptagonal Championships in May.

Events will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday with the hammer throw, and finish at 3:20 p.m. with the 4x400 meter relay. A complete schedule of events can be found here. Complete results will be posted at YaleBulldogs.com at the conclusion of the meet.

Report by Kyle Eichner '12, Yale Sport Publicity