Unless the coaches revisit their decision to kill off the 500- and 1,000-meter runs, this could be the last time we play this guessing game. The rule of thumb is that you split your elite guys — if you have the numbers — into different events, thus maximizing your potential point yield. If you don’t have numbers, you do your best to predict the behaviors of those coaches who do and act accordingly. And if you have the numbers, you recognize this and try some odd-ball gambling. Simple, huh? To the casual fan, this gamesmanship isn’t all that compelling as they’d generally like to see the best matchups. And in the future, the 400- and 800-meter runs could provide them.
But in these four events, the big mystery here is Princeton. If you look at the season’s top fives below, you see junior Tom Hopkins at the top of the 400m chart. He isn’t a mystery as it seems like he is good for about 20 points each Heps. But it is what lies below the surface that causes fits for the others. There are three extremely talented Tigers who have been used sparingly so far. Russell Dinkins has run nothing under 800 meters. Austin Hollimon — who has returned from an attempt to make the U.S. Olympic team — has run a single 600 meter, well beyond his specialty (400m). Oft-injured Peter Callahan has jogged a mile and turned in a respectable 800. Are they healthy? Will they scored five points or 30 points? That could easily mean the difference in which bus carries home the championship trophy.
Cornell is a bit of a mystery as well. Most of the Big Red’s times have been run on its flat Barton Hall oval and the NCAA seems to be over-rewarding those performances. When you strip away those excessive benefits and deal with real times, the top of the 400 and 500 lists look a lot less Red than before. If Cornell scores big bunches in those events, it will validate the the NCAA’s assessment. That rant aside, we know Cornell can battle in these events. Freshman Max Hairston and Olympic hopeful Bruno Hortelano-Roig in the shorter challenges and Rutger Admirand, Will Weinlandt and John Schilkowsky in the 800 and 1k.
Of course, you can’t talk mid-distance in the League without mentioning Columbia. Coach Willy Wood’s Lions have three runners — Harry McFann, Brendon Fish and Connor Claflin — who have dipped under 1:51 in the 800m this winter. The rest of the League? Zero combined. But the Lions pulled out of the 4×800 at the Millrose Games, leaving Penn State to run alone at the meet record.
Penn has two of the top three in the 500m so far with Tom Timmins and Tim Hamlett while Brown looks strong in the 1k with rookie Ned Willig and Erik Berg. Willig’s first college run was a 2:22.96 in that event, which was an all-time top 10 in the League and broke Trinity Gray’s school record.
Top fives for 2013:
47.58 — Tom Hopkins (Princeton)
49.13 — Max Hairston (Cornell)
49.18 — Ryan Kelly (Brown)
49.28 — Tom Timmins (Penn)
49.41 — Ajani Brown (Brown)
1:03.92 — Bruno Hortelano-Roig (Cornell)
1:04.13 — Tom Timmins (Penn)
1:04.35 — Tim Hamlett (Penn)
1:04.43 — Harry McFann (Columbia)
1:04.47 — Connor Claflin (Columbia)
1:50.05 — Harry McFann (Columbia)
1:50.56 — Brendon Fish (Columbia)
1:50.62 — Connor Claflin (Columbia)
1:51.05 — Will Weinlandt (Cornell)
1:51.35 — Peter Callahan (Princeton)
2:22.96 — Ned Willig (Brown)
2:24.10 — Brendon Fish (Columbia)
2:24.44 — Erik Berg (Brown)
2:24.59 — John Schilkowsky (Cornell)
2:26.08 — James Shirvell (Yale)
— Brett Hoover