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Ayhan and Laut Highlight Award Winners at Banquet

Ekrem Ayhan. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Ekrem Ayhan. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Ekrem Ayhan won the James Stack '61 Award and Austin Laut the Gardner Millett Award as the Yale track and field program announced seven new annual awards at its banquet last Wednesday.

Regarding the new awards, Mark T. Young '68 Director of Cross Country and Track and Field David Shoehalter said: "With the new award structure in place departmentally we thought it would be a good idea to add some individual awards (we previously only had three individual awards - Calhoun / Stack / Gardner Millet) so that we could recognize some of the outstanding accomplishments of our team."

Sophomore and "throws squad" cornerstone Andrew Rochon was awarded the Outstanding Thrower Award for his consistently impressive efforts in every possible throwing event – including a second-place finish in the javelin at Harvard-Yale – in spite of a nagging wrist injury.

The Outstanding Jumper Award was given to CJ McCord in recognition of his almost out-matched reliability throughout the season. McCord consistently scored well for the team, with his two fourth-place finishes at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships and indoor school record the highlights of a glittering final season as a Bulldog.

The middle distance squad was arguably the distance team's finest group this season, with two members – Nick Dahl and Allen Siegler – scoring in the mile at the Indoor Heptagonal Championships and qualifying for the NCAA First Round for the 1500m. With his fifth-place position in the 1500m run at the Outdoor Heptagonal Championships, Siegler was awarded the Outstanding Middle Distance Runner title.

However, Dahl's efforts did not go unnoticed. After a stress fracture in late-August many would have written him off for the year, but through sheer will he not only salvaged his season but led the team. He ran a beautiful PR of 4.05.10 seconds to win the IC4A Indoor Mile Championship, won Harvard-Yale outdoors and H-Y-P indoors, and ran 3.44.58 in the 1500m to qualify for the NCAA First Round outdoors. For these efforts he was unsurprisingly deemed the Most Improved Athlete.

First year Robert Miranda has been a source of incredible dependability for the Bulldogs this year. He shattered the first-year 3000m indoor record by five seconds with his time of 8.11.19  before turning his attention to a new event, the 3000m steeplechase, which he also conquered at Penn Relays by running 9.07.31 -- a time that entered him into the Yale all-time list and earned him the Outstanding Distance Runner Award.

Another essential first year has been Juma Sei. With his incredible speed and range, Sei has proved invaluable. He scored at both the Indoor and Outdoor Heptagonal Championships. In the former, he finished fourth in the 400m and fifth in the 4x440 yards. He progressed greatly for the latter, however, and took a wonderful second in both the 400m and the 4x100m relay before splitting 46 seconds on the anchor leg of the 4x400m relay to carry the team to third. His efforts not only earned him the Lee Calhoun Award for the outstanding sprinter or hurdler but the Outstanding First Year Award too.

The James Stack Award is presented annually to that male track and field athlete who best personifies Jim Stack, the captain and leader of the 1961 team that won the "big three", Heptagonal and IC4A Championships. This year the choice was hardly a difficult one. Ayhan, a sophomore, was monstrous throughout the season but especially at the Outdoor Heptagonal Championships. He ran in the 200m, the 400m, the 4x100m and the 4x400m. He scored in every single event he entered. In the 200m he finished fifth; in the 400m, fourth; in the 4x100m, second; and in the 4x400m, third. A real MVP performance.

The final award of the evening was the Garder Millet Award, given to the outstanding member of the Men's Track and Field Team who excels in Sportsmanship, Courage and Inspiration. It is given annually in Memory of  Gardner Millett Jr., Yale Class of 1938. Pole vaulter Laut has always been an excellent, dependable member of the team. However, in his senior year he showed remarkable leadership, both at practice and in competition. This was perhaps epitomized at the Harvard-Yale meet when he broke the school record with his vault of 5.31m (17' 05"), inspiring all of the team in the process.

As the Bulldogs look back on their season and turn their attention towards the next year, they will surely find strength in the incredible competitors they have in their ranks.

Report by Harrison Smith '22, Yale Sports Publicity