oHeps13: Women’s Distance

If you look at the 5,000-meter run, a typical Heps year would have a huge battle for a title between Columbia junior Waverly Neer and Cornell senior Katie Kellner. Both are on the brink of sub-16, which has never been approached in Championship history.

But the problem for Neer and Kellner is that there is a world-class runner dominating the scene as Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino — now a three-time NCAA Champion — is pushing the limits of sub-15! She ran 15:11 recently at the Mount SAC Relays to claim the World Championships “A” standard. The question is, will she even run the 5k or will she double the 1500 and 3k and return for the 4×800 like she did last year. Something tells me at some point she will want that Championship 5k mark as well. But it could be next year when the League finally scraps the 3k.

The distance races are a bit of a chess game with the coaches, figuring out who is running which event and positioning their own athletes for maximum team yield.

Cornell junior Rachel Sorna is a lock in the steeplechase after breaking the Heps’ all-time record in California early this spring. Her 9:50.39 is best, even in a League that has produced amazing steeplers like Anna Willard, Delilah DiCrescenzo and Ashley Higginson. Sorna’s spring chase pack is near 30 seconds behind.

The steeplechase and the flat 3k are separated by more than three hours on Sunday, leaving Sorna the chance to double back and push the pace with D’Agostino in the 3,000. Throw in Nihal Kayali of Yale and Cornell’s Geena Hartung and Caroline Kellner and that race could well be a quick one. D’Ag set the meet record in 9:24 a year ago.

That leaves the 10,000-meter run and it could be a key to Cornell’s team success as four of the eight top times in the League this spring have been produced by Big Red runners (paced by the elder Kellner and Devin McMahon). That could leave the contending teams yelling for senior Olivia Mickle of Brown, who ran 33:52 at the Stanford Invitational in late March. That is the best time in the Ivies this year.

— Brett Hoover

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