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Bulldogs Ready for Packed Indoor Track Season

Erin Gerardo. (photo by Steve Musco)
Erin Gerardo. (photo by Steve Musco)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- As the indoor track season opener quickly approaches, the Yale women's track and field team is in a promising position, bolstered by a talented first-year class and a strong contingent of returners. The Bulldogs will start their season at the Yale Season Opener in less than two weeks, commencing a season packed with high-level competitions.

The team enters the 2018-19 season led by Mark T. Young '68 Director of Track and Field and Cross Country David Shoehalter. Notably, this year marks Shoehalter's 25th year at Yale. Under his leadership, the team has experienced major growth and success including many podium finishes at the Ivy League Championship in recent years.

Senior Emma Lower is the captain for the indoor and outdoor track season. Lower, classically a middle distance runner, is also a member of the cross country team. Early in her Yale career, she established herself as an 800-meter phenom, setting the indoor first-year record in the event in 2016.

She is already well-versed in athletic leadership being a co-founder of the Yale Women's Athletic Council, established 2017.

The Bulldogs will kick off the indoor track season on Dec. 8 at Yale's home venue of Coxe Cage. For the first-years, this is a particularly exciting opportunity to debut as Yale track and field athletes on their home turf.

The first-year athletes are likely to make an immediate impact on the program, boasting impressive accolades and personal records from high school. There will be 15 new faces across sprints, jumps, throws, and middle distance or distance athletes.

More than half of the incoming athletes run sprint events, ranging from the 60-meter dash to the 400-meter run. Undoubtedly, the Yale 4x400-meter relay will be bolstered by the addition of Aliya Boshnak, Sophie Isom and Maya Sharp. All these athletes have recorded personal bests in the event under 57 seconds.

With this talented incoming class, Yale's current 4x400-meter relay record may be under threat.

In the shorter sprints, Aliyah Cunningham, Roxanne Harris, Libby McMahon, Ava Thomas and Lauren Stavig are new athletes to keep an eye on. Boasting impressive personal bests in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, they are likely to make an immediate impact on relay teams with the possibility of being immediate point-scorers individually as well.

Last season, the sprint events experienced a year of tremendous growth, led by Lillian Enes. As a sophomore athlete, Enes had a breakthrough season, substantially improving on her personal bests week to week. Returning to the team as a junior, Enes will look to build off her success from last year and she will be threatening several of the Yale indoor records.

A number of returners are also building off solid indoor and outdoor seasons from last year and are poised well for even greater improvements this season. As first-years, Ariel Claxton, Lauren Drysch, Angele Kelly, Emma Osborne and Arielle Tessier were foundational to the Bulldogs' relay teams and recorded impressive individual performances.

The past two years have been historic for the hurdles at Yale, with Sydney Holmes setting an indoor record in 2017 and Addison Coy earning the Ivy League individual title earned in 2018.

Holmes will return to Coxe Cage this winter after setting the team's indoor record in the 60-meter hurdles during her debut indoor season.

While she has certainly displayed her ability as a hurdler on the outdoor track, on the indoor track Coy is another athlete to watch, with or without hurdles. During the outdoor season, as a first-year athlete, she earned herself the title of Ivy League individual champion, a rare and noteworthy accomplishment.

However, on the indoor track, Coy historically has focused on the 400-meter and 500-meter dashes, events where her strength serves her well. Her impressive trajectory during the outdoor track season last year will likely put her at the top of the league in these events in the upcoming season.

Senior Aja Thorpe will complete her fourth and final season as a Bulldog. Despite being primarily a hurdler, she has also exhibited remarkable speed in the short springs on the indoor track.

A new athlete, Davornne Lindo, will also join the hurdle squad. She has previously competed in a range of hurdle events, from the 100-meter to 300-meter hurdles.

A trio of throws athletes will represent the Bulldogs during the indoor season. Veteran athletes Alladia Patterson and Evelyn Roberts will return to their specialty events of the shot put and weight throw, respectively. Emma Vasen, a first-year, will be rounding out the trio. Previously, her specialty event has been shot put.

Spanning all the event groups, junior Natasha Feshbach is the sole multi-event athlete for the Bulldogs. During the indoor season, she will be an athlete to watch in events ranging from the throws to the 800-meter run.

There is a strong contingent of jumpers returning from last year. Juniors Elizabeth Adelson and Olivia Mooney will be back to compete in the high jump. Sophomore Tessa Malone will represent Yale in the long and triple jumps this season.

Coming off a stellar debut season, sophomore Erin Gerardo will be poised well for another great season as a Bulldog in the pole vault.

In the longer events, the team is welcoming a decorated class of athletes, some of which have already earned themselves All-American honors and World Championship qualifications.

First-years Jocelyn Chau and Samantha Friborg are entering Yale as two of the most accomplished Yale recruits. Chau, a middle distance runner who usually specializes in the 1500-meter, exhibited her range as a crucial member of Yale's varsity squad in cross country. She boasts a personal best of 4:16 in the 1500-meter run and finished no less than eighth in the event at last year's world championship.

Friborg is classically an 800-meter runner. She is coming into Yale as one of the top high school middle distance athletes in the nation. During her senior year, she established herself in Massachusetts state history by breaking multiple records and earning herself All-American accolades at the New Balance Outdoor National Championship.

Abigail Long, Morgan McCormick and Emma Pindur will also be important additions to the Yale track and field team. Specializing in the longer distances on the track, these athletes are building off solid performances during the outdoor season.

McCormick was consistently a point-scorer for the Bulldogs during the cross country season and ended her season on a high note by finishing as the top first-year athlete at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship in cross country, placing her in an optimal trajectory for the coming track season.

Although they did not compete during the cross country season, Maddie Ghazarian and Kosana Weir will be looking to open their Yale careers in the upcoming track season. Both have recorded impressive personal best times in the 1500-meter run and the 3000-meter run.

In addition to Friborg, there are a number of returners that will strengthen the middle distance event group this season. Junior Arianna Lord and sophomore Megan Quimby are coming off breakthrough cross country seasons but will drop back down in distance during the indoor season to their signature middle-distance events.

Sophomore Chloe Jensen was a staple in the 400-meter and 800-meter events as a first-year athlete last year.

In her final indoor campaign as a Bulldog, captain Emma Lower will continue to focus on the middle distance events, particularly the 800-meter run, which she holds the Yale first-year record in.

The juniors in the distance event group have consistently improved during their time at Yale. Lauren Chapey, Jane Miller, Gemma Shepherd, Hannah Steffke and Rachel Suss will be athletes to watch in events ranging from the 1500-meter run to the 5000-meter run.

The sophomore class also has a strong contingent of middle distance and distance athletes. Kayley DeLay and Sevanne Ghazarian continued their streak of impressive cross country finishes this year-- now both have earned the honor of All-Region recognition.

Zoe Nuechterlein and Sarah Pillard will be athletes to keep an eye out for in the long distance events. Both have progressed and improved on their personal records consistently since coming to Yale.

Seniors Ellie Atkinson and Andrea Masterson will be looking to end their Yale track and field careers on a high note. Atkinson has asserted herself as a force to be reckoned with in the mile having run under 4:50 and having earned herself the title of HYP champion in the event during her sophomore year.

Masterson is coming off her best season yet in cross country which will surely build her confidence heading into the next season of competition. Expect to see the newly crowned Ivy League Champion in cross country in longer distance events such as the 3000-meter run and 5000-meter run.

The Bulldogs will be opening up their season on Dec. 8 at Coxe Cage with the Yale Season Opener. After the season opener, the team will have another month of consistent training before heading into the bulk of their competitions. The next meet for the Bulldogs will be the annual trigonal meet against Columbia and Dartmouth on Jan. 19, hosted by Columbia at the Armory. For a second straight week, Yale will face off against Ivy League competition at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton Trigonal Meet hosted by Harvard on Jan. 26. The Bulldogs will return to Boston the following weekend to compete in the Harvard Select and Boston University Scarlet and White meets on Feb. 2. The team will be split between two competitions the following weekend as well. Part of the team will compete at home in the Giegengack Invitational on Feb. 9 and the Boston University Valentine Invitation of Feb. 8 and Feb. 9. Before heading into the championship season, the team will tune up at the Brown University Invitational on Feb. 16.

The championship season will kick off with the Ivy League Heptagonal Championship, hosted by Harvard, on Feb. 23 and 24. Athletes that earn qualifying marks for the ECAC Championship will again travel to Boston to compete, hosted by Boston University Mar. 2 and 3.

Any athletes or relay teams that record performances in the top 16 nationwide will automatically qualify for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championship. This meet is hosted by the University of Alabama in Birmingham on Mar. 8 and 9.

The Yale women's track and field team this year consists of athletes with a range of specialties that will substantially add to the team's ability to score points across events. Not only does the team have a wide range of talent, each event group has significant depth. The schedule for the indoor track season is filled with high level competitions and world-class venues, offering ample opportunity to improve on personal bests before the championship season.

Report by Yale Sports Publicity.