Nathan Crumpton Photo
It looks like Cornell and Princeton made some changes to their sprint lineup in order to try to increase their point chances for the team race.
Before this weekend, Cornell could not guarantee any points in the 100m as the Big Red’s top 100m sprinter was not within the top six. This would have benefited Princeton. Meanwhile, Cornell had plenty of talent in the 200m and 400m, which still hurt Princeton. But deciding to not have Bruno Hortelano-Roig defend his 400m title and try to have him take the 100m-200m double (which has has done before, back in 2010) does optimize the Big Red changes of scoring throughout the sprints. Princeton has made some counter-measures by entering its top 100m sprinter, John Hill, into the 200m. Hill has yet to race a 200m in college, but his high school personal best is 22.54, which really places him near the bottom of the 200m seedings. The removal of Bruno from the 400m almost guarantees the win for Princeton’s Tom Hopkins as no one else is within a second of him right now.
Sticking with the sprints, there are three men who will try to do the high/intermediate hurdle double. Two of them are in the top three of both events, but one athlete is a bit untested in the longer hurdles. Cornell’s Max Hairston completed this double last year, finishing with a second place in the highs and sixth place in the intermediates. He is much stronger this year so expect a higher place in the intermediates and a challenge for the high hurdle title. Harvard’s Jarvis Harris is the newbie to the intermediates, as he’s only raced this twice before this weekend. Is he strong enough to try and place at the top of the podium? I know from experience, it is a hard double to do, particularly when you are new to the intermediate distance. I still think fresh legs will win that race (hence, Dartmouth’s Edward Wagner).
With the middle distances, the biggest surprise to me is that Columbia’s John Gregorek is opting to race the 1500m over the steeplechase, where he is the defending champion. Yes, Penn’s Thomas Awad will not be racing the 1500m despite his sub-4 minute mile clocking from a few weeks ago, but he is entered in both the 5k and the 10k. But Princeton freshman Will Paulson is a force to be reckoned with as he’s a fierce competitor in this event. He previously pushed Dartmouth’s Will Geoghegan to the line at the Larry Ellis Invite, and then a new weeks later kept up with some fast elite runners at the Sam Howell Invite. I’d say he’s a dark horse for sure. The steeplechase title is wide open this year.
For the longer distances, it’s good to see some more of the distance-talented athletes entered (even if as “no time”). There were some names in the 10km that I was surprised to see, like Awad and Dartmouth’s John Bleday, as neither of them have done the 10k on a track to date. Maybe they’ll be scratched come race time, but maybe they are running for the team points? Harvard’s Maksim Korolev is in the mix. Hopefully he has a better Outdoor Heps than he did last year. He is talented, but like his teammate James Leakos, can be a bit unpredictable on any given day.
Princeton also did some shuffling around in their horizontal jumps. If anything, it looks like they could go 1-2-3 in both events (they’re adding Damon McLean to the long jump and adding Jake Scinto to the triple). The 1-2-3 triple jump finish will be a bit of a stretch as there are some good Harvard and Cornell jumpers in the 3-4-5 positions. But this Princeton rearrangement will push a lot of additional pressure onto Cornell, particularly when one of their top jumpers, Steven Bell, is having an off year. Harvard is also down a jumper, but the two Crimson jumpers can score.
With the vertical jumps and throws, oh it will be exciting, but the absence of Cornell’s Rob Robbins, who is ranked No. 3 in the country in the javelin is a disappointment. He has only thrown twice this year, the last time a month ago. Is he resting up for the NCAAs or is he hurt? Major surprise.
– Mary Boggs