Bulldogs Head to Ithaca for Ivy League Showdown

Feb. 27, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The journey that began with the Yale Season Opener on December 12th has come at last to its end at Barton Hall at Cornell (Ithaca, N.Y.) with the Indoor Heptagonal Championships on February 1st. The Yale women's track and field team will be embroiled in a two day contest of speed, strength and resolve against the best that the Ivy League has to offer. The running, lifting, competing and preparing that began for some as early as mid-August will finally be showcased to its fullest extent this weekend, a Heptagonal title, whether team or individual, is the crowned jewel of any Ivy League track and field athletes' trophy case

The Bulldogs will be up against the odds once again against a very powerful Ivy League conference. Home field advantage will go to Cornell, although it appears it won't need the help, as the Big Red has won the last six team championships, most recently by more than twice the score of the second place team (159 to Brown's 71). Cornell also holds the conference record for team championships with eight, which accounts for thirty percent of all women's indoor track and field championships ever held. It seems that Cornell's stranglehold on the Ivy League will not be loosened this year.

However, the Heptagonal Championships are famous for surprise performances and big-time upsets. With this in mind, the Bulldogs approach the Ivy League Championships with optimism, hoping to improve on a seventh place finish last year.

Scorers from last year's campaign include senior Lindsay Donaldson (last year's champion in the 3,000-meter run and runner up at 5,000-meters), senior Olakitan Awolesi (third place in the triple jump), junior Jennifer Lin (fourth in the pentathlon), sophomore Claudia Duncan (anchored the fourth place 4x400-meter relay team) and the entire 4x800-meter relay team of Stephany Reaves, Kathryn Schleckser, Meredith Leenhouts and Kelli Buck.

The women hope to expand on last year's finish, and certainly have the tools to do so. Awolesi's improved long jump skills are a nice compliment to her already solid triple jump abilities. Duncan's new personal record of 56.56 in the 400-meter dash makes her a contender in a very tough 400-meter field (Duncan's preferred event, the 500-meter dash, is not offered at the women's Heptagonal Championships). The entire 4x800-meter relay team returns with almost all members having faster personal records than the year before.

Even more promising are the new members of the Bulldogs who could make an impact at the conference championship. Look for senior Mary Kuder and the freshman duo of Kate Grace and Erika Mansson to aid Duncan on a blazing 4x400-meter relay, as well as freshman Eve King to turn some heads in the pentathlon.

The Heptagonal Championships will take place on both Saturday and Sunday, March 1rst and 2nd respectively. With the exception of the triple jump and shot put, all field events (including the pentathlon) will finish on the first day of competition. All running events below 3,000-meters will have their preliminary heats on Saturday, and only finals will take place on Sunday.

The meet is scored as follows across all events: ten points for first, eight for second, six for third, four for fourth, two for fifth and one for sixth.

Results will be posted live on http://therelays.blogspot.com/ during competition.

report by Ted Galligan '10, Yale Sports Publicity

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