oHeps13: The Relays

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Penn Relays image

While the season’s best performances to date are a good indicator of whom to watch, you really need to put greater weight on the talent depth within the distance discipline.  After all, the athletes can be pretty spent once the 4×400 and 4×800 come around at the end of Day 2.

The Penn women have the fastest 4×100 relay so far this season by half a second, using a team that has three sprinters ranked in the top-10 of the 100m. Similiar story with Harvard in the women’s 4×400. The Crimson have the top performance by four seconds, but come Sunday, expect Columbia and Cornell to make both title races much closer. After all, Cornell edged out Harvard for the indoor mile relay title. Penn can hold on for its first 4×100 title since 1996 (with it being earlier in Day 2 before the sprint finals, the legs will be fresher) while Harvard will edge out Cornell and Columbia this time around.

But in other races, like the women’s 4×800, where Princeton shattered the league record last weekend at the Penn Relays and leads the conference by a good 30 seconds, the Tigers don’t have that much competition. Even if they switched out most of their squad from that record-breaking team, they would likely still win the race based on their middle-distance depth.

The men’s 4×100 and 4×400 will likely be the opposite of what we see in the women’s equivalent. Cornell is more than a second faster than the next best performance on the 4×100 charts, with a Penn Relays’ time (40.24) being the fastest in the League in 35 years. With that and the number of sprinters who are in the top five of the 100m and/or 200m, the Big Red is the event favorite barring injury or botched handoffs.

Similar with Princeton’s 4×400. As long as no one gets injured, the Tigers should run away with that race.

The men’s 4×800 is more up for grabs. While Columbia holds the conference record, Princeton, Cornell, Brown and Yale have a chance at the title too. Princeton and Brown were within two seconds of each other at Penn Relays in this event (with Princeton posting the League’s fifth best all-time).

Yale surprised quite a few people in the four-mile relay where the Bulldogs bested Columbia as the top Ivy finisher in the race. Cornell and Columbia have the talent depth in the 800m and mile to produce fast teams. This will come down to the final meters between Cornell, Columbia, and Princeton with a conference or meet record within grasp.

— Mary Boggs

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