Seven From Heps Nation Honored

The Heps Nation claimed seven regional awards from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday, five coming from Cornell.

As anyone might expect, Dartmouth’s double NCAA champion Abbey D’Agostino was named the Runner of the Year for the Northeast Region. Already the possessor of the IAAF ‘A’ standard for the World Championships, D’Agostino is a favorite to repeat as the NCAA 5k champion. She ran 15:11.35 for 5,000 meters in a Mt. SAC Relays win for the third-best in-season performance in collegiate history and claimed Ivy League titles at 1,500 meters in 4:11.94 and 3,000 meters in 9:21.79.

The bounty was big in Ithaca as junior Montez Blair was named the region’s Field Athlete of the Year, while Nathan Taylor (men’s) and Rich Bowman (women) were each named the regional Coach of the Year. Megan Johnson (women) and Artie Smith (men) each earned the region’s top honor as Assistant Coach of the Year. The awards were voted on by the nation’s college coaches.

Blair, an NCAA qualifier will head to the outdoor NCAA championships for the second time and enters the national meet tied for the first seed along with five other athletes. He set a new Cornell record in the high jump at 7-4½ (2.24m) and won his second consecutive Ivy League title. His mark ranks tied for fifth in Division I and is ranked fourth all-time in league history.

Taylor earns his eighth regional Coach of the Year accolade in his 15th season as head coach. He guided the Big Red to an IC4A championship and the top ranking in the region all year and finished second at the outdoor Heptagonal championships. Cornell advanced 20 athletes in 16 different events to the first round of the NCAA Prelims and put five entrants forward to the NCAA finals.

Bowman led a Cornell women’s team to a win at the outdoor Heps for the second straight year, scoring 145 points. The Big Red won four events and placed second in eight others and Victoria Imbesi was voted co-Outstanding Field Event Performer of the Meet. A program-best 13 women qualified individually for the NCAA Preliminary Round in eight events. Four women (Katie Kellner in the 10K, Rachel Sorna and Genna Hartung in the steeplechase and Imbesi in the Javelin) advanced to the NCAA Finals.

In her third season coaching throws at Cornell, Johnson has guided All-American Stephen Mozia to school records in the shot and discus with marks of 63-0 (19.20m) and 196-7 (59.91m). Mozia won the Penn Relays Championship of America in the shot and ranks in the top 10 nationally in both events. She has also directed NCAA finalist and school record holder Rob Robbins at 233-4 (71.11m). She has coached three entries to the NCAA Finals.

Smith, in his 14th year at Cornell, led distance runners to seven berths to the NCAA Preliminaries and three to the NCAA Finals. Katie Kellner was the top qualifier from the East region in the 10,000 meters and Sorna set a new Ivy Record in the steeplechase with a time of 9:50.39. At the outdoor Heps, Big Red distance runners scored 65 of the total points in the team victory.

The final USTFCCCA recipient was Princeton men’s head coach Fred Samara in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

In his 35th season, Samara’s Princeton team won the Ivy League Championship by 29 points over Northeast Region No. 1 ranked Cornell. Princeton finished the regular season as the top-ranked team in the Middle Atlantic Region. Princeton had NCAA Finals qualifiers in the 4×400m relay, 400m hurdles (Austin Hollimon), 800m (Russell Dinkins) and two at 10,000m (Michael Franklin, Chris Bendtsen).

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