The easiest way to write a preview is simply to say: This is what I will be looking for this weekend. First up, decent weather. Beginning to hate you, New Haven. How ’bout some warmth? And with no further hesitation, here I go:
So I made up a little story about Oxford and Cambridge joining Heps for April Fools Day. The response? Oxbridge has flown to the U.S. and challenged Cornell and Penn to a dual. And if Oxbridge wins, they are in. We have a 10-team track league again. Okay, not really. But we should.
Princeton fresh Julia Ratcliffe has already broken the Heps’ hammer record this season. Now let’s see how many times she will do that as she heads the field at the Howell Invite. If she can push her season best by just three feet, she will top the best throw in the East so far this season (212-6 by Bowling Green’s Brooke Pleger).
Oxbridge has no chance of winning the high jump in Transatlantic Series in Ithaca. Both Cornell’s Montez Blair and Penn’s Maalik Reynolds can soar 7-5 or so. What you got?
Harvard rookie Autumne Franklin is geared up for her toughest competition yet at the Florida Relays. She is in Friday’s 100m hurdles with the likes of Yvette Lewis, Nia Ali, Jackie Cowart and Aleesha Barber. Of course, Ali and Barber should be disqualified for the name of their running club — Boogiefast TC. Ummmm, not enough brainstorming on that one.
Princeton hosting someone from every Heps school this weekend and things get rolling on Friday night. The showcase event on Friday night is the women’s 1,500m run, which will feature Princeton’s Greta Feldman, Columbia’s Waverly Neer and Syracuse’s Lauren Penney. High school star Sabrina Southerland, who ran an out-of-this-world 2:03 800 meters at The Armory less than a month ago, is on the start list, but she will miss it because she will be at the Final Four to watch her brother James, who plays for Syracuse.
Princeton senior Austin Hollimon, who just completed his senior thesis, is finally running the 400-meter hurdles in a Princeton uniform. Senior thesis, then an event debut. We are particularly interested in Hollimon’s section at the Florida Relays because also in it is Boston University graduate student Zack Ray, who worked for me last summer. Great kid who was the team captain at Maryland when that program was placed on its deathbed by its administration. Faced with a shaky Terrapin future, he opted to attend grad school at BU. We will be cheering for both.
Remember that this is what I am looking for this weekend. And I will be looking to see how Bucknell hammerman Lenny Joseph fares at the Colonial Relays in Williamsburg, Va. Like Zack Ray, Joseph worked for me last summer and I am expecting big things from him. Like a season debut of 212 or so.
If there is a single Saturday event at the Sam Howell Invite in Princeton that has me excited, it is the women’s 400. Columbia’s Sharay Hale seemed tentative on the banked track after a 19-month layoff during the indoor season. The banks are gone, the turns are wider and now she is taking on one heck of a lineup that includes 800m national champ Ajee Wilson, the speedy Sophia Smellie and former LSU standout LaTavia Thomas.
Benjamin Cardozo High senior Deajah Stevens, who is heading to the University of South Carolina in the fall, will be testing herself against the collegians in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Howell. I am quite sure Columbia’s Marvellous Iheukwumere will be looking to limit her expectations in the 200.
In the 400m dash on Saturday at the Weav, we are looking at guys moving down (Columbia’s Connor Claflin & Harry McFann, Princeton’s Russell Dinkins) as well as a notable sprint king — Brown’s John Spooney — moving up. Who do you like in the one lap? Mid-distance guys or sprinters? Bolt or Rudisha?
The men’s 800m run will feature two members of Princeton’s NCAA DMR Championship squad — Peter Callahan and Michael Williams. There are some other All-Americans — namely Princeton triple leaper Damon McLean and Harvard vaulter Nico Weiler — who will be looking for some nice weather to shine through. Unfortunately, the projected high temperature in Princeton will be just 53 degrees on Saturday.