Hurdling Toward Eugene

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Friday was a big day for the Heps Nation as a dozen Leaguers qualified for the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., lifting the conference total to 18.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for many was the emergence of Princeton senior Austin Hollimon in the 400-meter hurdles. He’d taken last year off to try to make Team USA in the event, but the result was a series of near misses. Great starts followed by collisions with a late hurdle.

Things began to come together at Heps when he set a collegiate personal-best of 52.01 in the qualifying round and then won the League title in 52.30. On Friday in Greensboro, N.C., he not only won his quarterfinal heat to advance, he posted a new best of 51.02, the second fastest time of the region.

Two of Hollimon’s teammates — one former and one current — will join him at Hayward Field for Nationals. Late into the night in Austin, current Texas Longhorn and former Tiger Trevor Van Ackeren advanced in the steeplechase. Back in the East, Russell Dinkins was an 800-meter heat winner (1:51.58).

Running with Dinkins in Oregon will be Columbia junior Harry McFann, who took the final qualifying spot with a 1:49.32. Afterward he tweeted that he was going to need to find more speed at Nats.

The remaining three men to move on are throwers. Cornell sophomore Stephen Mozia, who already advanced in the discus, and Harvard junior Dustin Brode both went 60+ in the shot put. For Brode, his 60-6 1/2 toss broke his own school mark. Another Cornell soph, javelin thrower Rob Robbins, posted an early 227-8 and then passed his final three attempts.

On the women’s side, two more Cornellians — steeplechasers Rachel Sorna and Genna Hartung — also moved on. Sorna won her heat in 9:56.57 and should be among the favorites — after Colorado’s Emma Coburn anyway — in Eugene.

Two Harvard women also qualified for the next venue. Freshman Autumne Franklin continued her sensational campaign in the 400-meter hurdles, running 58.50 to advance. Meanwhile senior Mary Hirst was one of 12 to clear 5-11 1/4 in the high jump, thus booking passage to the Northwest.

The final qualifier was not a surprise as Princeton rookie Julia Ratcliffe had an easy time in the hammer as any of her six tosses would have qualified. Her best toss of the day was 206-10, good for fourth.

There were some significant near-misses for the League as well. Both Tory Worthen of Princeton and Claire Dishong of Cornell cleared 13-1 1/2 in the pole vault, but needed few misses or the next height to advance. Princeton soph Cecelia Barowski ran 2:08.34 in the 800, but missed advancing by two places.

The only Friday qualifier to a quarterfinal was Cornell freshman Max Hairston, who ran 13.97 in the 110-meter hurdles. Two Leaguers — Brown’s John Spooney (21.15) and Cornell’s Bruno Hortelano-Roig (21.16) — just missed in the 200. In fact, Hortelano-Roig would have advanced to the quarters if he were .004 faster in his heat.

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