March 5, 2009

Bulldogs Ready for ECAC Championships

March 5, 2009

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldog women's track and field team is ready for what is potentially the final meet of the indoor season. The team, which turned in fast times at the Heptagonal Championships that earned the team six All-Ivy honors, will have athletes compete in the five events that the team has achieved ECAC qualifying marks in.

In 2008, the Bulldogs placed 27th at the ECAC Championships with 10 points. Connecticut won with 60.5 points. The Bulldogs, though, performed impressively at the Heptagonal Championships, peaking at the perfect time and turning in a number of season best performances, including a school record in the 800-meter run.

One of Yale's best events could be the 4x800-meter relay. The Bulldogs are coming off of a huge victory in the 4x880-yard relay at the Heptagonal Championships in a time of 8:57.60, which converts to a time of 8:55.55 in the 4x800-meter relay, a time that is the fourth best in school history. Last year, the team placed third in the event at the ECAC Championships. However, the Bulldogs' time from last weekend would have won last year's event by more than three seconds. Duke won the event last year in a time of 8:58.60 while the Bulldogs ran to a time of 9:02.91. This will be a great opportunity to move up on the all-time list because the Championships will be the last meet indoors for the seniors on the team. The pool of potential athletes that will compete on the relay include senior captain Jennifer Lin, seniors Kelli Buck, Bevin Peters and Kathryn Schleckser, junior Stephany Reaves and sophomore Kate Grace.

Grace also has a great opportunity to build on her first-place finish at the Heptagonal Championships in the 800-meter run. By running a time of 2:07.83, Grace set a school record and achieved a provisional qualifying mark for the NCAA Championships. This weekend, Grace can expect to have even better competition that will propel her to even faster times. This fast competition could help Grace improve her time, helping improve her chances of qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Last year, the preliminary heats of the ECAC Championships were very fast, with the top finisher running a time of 2:05.24. The only Bulldog in the field, Ingrid Sproll '08, was seeded 13th after the preliminaries, running a time of 2:13.76, but advanced to the finals after a number of athletes scratched from the event. Sproll finished fifth in the event finals in a time of 2:13.21. Grace's time from last weekend would have been the third-fastest time in the preliminary heats and the fastest in the event finals.

Junior Claudia Duncan has a great opportunity to perform well in the 500-meter dash. Duncan is the current Yale record holder in the event and has run as fast as 1:13.92 this year. Last year, Duncan chose to run in the 400-meter dash at the ECAC Championships instead, an event she took 13th in with a time of 56.99. This year, Duncan can place even higher. Her school record in the 500-yard dash, which she set at the Giegengack Invitational, would have earned her the third-fastest time in the preliminary heats. In the finals, her time would have earned her a fifth-place finish. Duncan, however, can be expected to go even faster because the intense competition will help her run a very fast time in the event. The winner of the finals last year, Seton Hall's Alexandra McCoy, ran a time of 1:11.85.

The Bulldog 4x400-meter relay squad also has the potential to do well. The team took 16th last year in a time of 3:52.36. The team this year has been even faster, running a time of 3:51.48, which is good for the fourth-best time in Yale history. This year, Duncan, Schleckser and sophomores Erika Mansson and Jennifer Parker will look to improve on their place from last year.

Buck will be the final competitor in an individual event. She will compete in the 3000-meter run at the ECAC Championships. So far this year, Buck has run as fast as 9:57.97. This time would have been good for 17th last year.

The Bulldogs will begin competition with the 500-meter dash preliminary round at 2:35 p.m. on Saturday.

Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity

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