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Yale to Host British Universities Friday and Ivy League Teams Saturday

Kate Grace.
Kate Grace.

April 9, 2009

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale women's track and field team will compete in two different meets on its home track this Friday and Saturday. On Friday Yale will host British universities Oxford and Cambridge for the 42nd biennial Yale-Harvard vs. Oxford-Cambridge meet. Yale and Harvard will become a joint team for the day, leaving aside their accustomed rivalry. On Saturday the Bulldogs' annual tri-meet with Penn and Princeton track teams will also take place on the Cuyler Field-Dwyer Track complex.

The Yale-Harvard vs. Oxford-Cambridge event occurs every two years, and it is the world's oldest continuously held international intercollegiate competition. The first contest of the combined teams occurred in 1899 in London, though it had its origin in a competition between Yale and Oxford in 1894.

The location rotates between the four universities. The last time the meet was held in New Haven was in 2001. In 2007, Yale and Harvard students flew to Oxford to compete on the Iffley Road Track, where Sir Roger Bannister ran the first sub-four-minute mile in 1954. Bannister actually participated in this very event for Oxford in the 1949 competition.

The American women's team has won four of the last five competitions and nine of 14 overall (women began competing in 1981). Yale-Harvard has also won six of the last seven combined men's and women's competitions, and 28 of 41 overall. In 2007 Yale and Harvard won 15 of 19 events on the women's side and 14 of 20 on the men's side.

This year there will also be 19 events: 11 running events and eight field events. The visiting team gets to choose the scoring system for the meet. In 2007 the meet was scored using the British system, with one point awarded to the winner of each event, instead of the traditional American method of awarding points on a 5-3-2-1 basis to each of the top four finishers in individual events.

A select group of Bulldogs will be chosen to compete with Harvard against the British universities Friday; no more than two Yale athletes will compete in each event.

To echo the words of the American coach before the first contest on July 21, 1899, as reported by the New York Times: the team has "very good prospects of winning on their merits, although we realize that our adversaries are thoroughly worthy of our steel."

Events will begin on Friday at 3 p.m. with the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the men's hammer throw. The official program for the meet can be found here. Complete results will be posted at at the end of the meet.

The Bulldogs will also host Penn and Princeton this weekend for the annual tri-meet between the three schools. Last year in Philadelphia Yale finished in a disappointing third place (Princeton 84, Penn 79, Yale 39), but the team looks to rectify that on its home track this year.

Princeton and Penn will both be formidable opponents. Some field athletes and distance runners were able to compete against Princeton this past weekend at the Sam Howell Invitational, but the majority of the team has not competed against either school in the outdoor season.

Princeton proved to have a deep team in short and middle distance last weekend, and was also very strong in field events like the pole vault and triple jump. The Tigers finished second at indoor Heptagonal Championships this March, and first in the cross country championship this past fall.

Penn has also had success in recent outdoor meets, with first-place finishes in the 800- and 200-meter contests this past weekend at its own Penn Invite, as well as a victory for its 4x400-meter relay team.

Yale will benefit from reuniting the team after its split last weekend to go to the Sam Howell Invitational at Princeton and the Colonial Relays at William and Mary.

Last year at this meet sophomore Kate Grace impressed everyone with a time of 2:06.32 in the 800-meter run, which was fast enough not only for the ECAC Championships and NCAA Championships, but was also under the "B" standard for U.S. Olympic Trials. At the end of last season Grace's personal best in the event was 2:06.12. Last weekend Grace showed that she can run any number of distances -- from 100 meters to 1,500 meters -- so she should be a strong asset no matter what distance she runs.

Sophomore Jennifer Parker came in first in the 200-meter dash at this competition last year, and she should perform well in short distances again this weekend, as should freshman Alexa Monti, who ran 12.48 in the 100-meter dash last weekend in Williamsburg (only .36 seconds above the ECAC Championships standard).

Senior Bevin Peters also ran well at Colonial Relays in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (11:03.69), and she should do well again in the event this Saturday, as should freshman Anne Lovelace, who ran 10:54.87 three weeks ago in California.

Events for the Penn-Princeton-Yale tri-meet 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 at the conclusion of the meet.

Report by Kyle Eichner `12, Yale Sports Publicity