Taking Charge

Nathan Crumpton photo

One of the results of the pending demise of the Big East Conference is that — unquestionably — Heps will be the best collegiate track & field league in the Northeast.

Whether it comes to sending teams to the NCAAs or scoring the Championships’ meets, Heps has generally been within a stone’s throw of the Big East. While our League stacks up very well in middle distance and distance events and most of the field events, the Big East has traditionally outperformed Heps in the sprints, hurdles and horizontal jumps.

But now the Big East is splintered beyond recognition. In the coming years, if it survives as is, only two of the teams will even be in the East (Temple and UConn). It really can’t be considered a Northeast conference. The next closest school will be more than 500 miles away from Philadelphia.

And what about the new conference that is going to be formed by the Catholic schools planning to leave the Big East? Well, it will simply be a diminished track & field conference. It will be a battle between Georgetown and Villanova and no one else. Providence has had solid distance runners, but hasn’t fashioned a successful track team. St. John’s and Seton Hall have abandoned the sport and those mentioned as potential conference partners aren’t bringing much of a resume to the table.

Last year Heps sent 119 entrants to the NCAA East Regional — nearly 15 athletes per school. It seems unlikely that any configuration outside of the big five conferences — the SEC, the PAC-12, the Big XII, the Big 10 and the ACC — will be able to send that many per school in the near future.

It also seems like, for years now, Heps has gotten stronger and stronger. Several observers at the Olympic Trials mentioned the surprising number of Leaguers in contention for a spot on Team USA back in June. Last year we also had two NCAA champions, two Penn Relays victories and two American college records as well.

As always, it’s a great day to reside in the Heps Nation.

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