oHeps14 – Relays

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Nathan Crumpton Photo

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oHeps-small-relayNo other way to say it, when it comes to the men’s 4×1 and 4×4 the big question is: Who will be second? That’s because the Cornell Big Red have such a sizable advantage this spring. In the 4×1, the Big Red — with Kinsley Ojukwu anchoring — advanced to the finals at the Texas Relays by running 40.15 in the qualifying heats (to beat out the likes of Cal, Clemson, Notre Dame, Texas Tech and Houston). Unfortunately, Cornell was DQed in the final. No other Ivy squad has posted a mark within a second of Cornell’s best. The closest have been Princeton (41.23) and Penn (41.27).

The gap is even more pronounced in the 4×4. Again, at the Texas Relays, Cornell’s foursome of Larry Gibson, Max Hairston, Ojukwu and Bruno Hortelano-Roig ran 3:07.98 in a fast heat of the four-lapper. Florida and LSU beat Cornell, but Notre Dame and Texas were behind. Columbia has a young foursome — led by Kevin Boyd — that can could run fast (all four are under 49.3 this year) while Princeton has the second-best time of the spring at 3:12.75.

In the 4×8, it looks like the battle is for second as well because Columbia — which ran a season-best 7:25.90 at Penn Relays — has the League’s top three runners in the senior trio of Harry McFann, John Gregorek and Brendon Fish as well as others who can fill in the fourth spot. Brown — with Henry Tufnell and Ned Willig — and Penn — featuring Drew Magaha and Mato Bekeja — are the Lions’ top challengers.

On the women’s side, expect Cornell and Harvard to tangle in both the 4×1 and 4×4. Those two have the best times thus far in the spring and are separated by a blink of the eye in both. Anchored by Katie Woodford in a California meet in March, the Big Red ran 45.82 in the 4×1 while Harvard ran just .02 off that mark at the Florida Relays with Danielle Barbian crossing the tape. If healthy, Columbia and senior star Marvellous Iheukwumere could turn in a fast time.

But it looks to be a two-team battle in the 4×4. At the Penn Relays, Harvard opted out of the Heps’ race in an effort to make the Championship of America final. But it was Cornell — with standout Udeme Akpaete — which advanced (from the Heps’ race) in 3:37.04. But Harvard didn’t give up, running 3:36.83 in the Eastern final with Gabrielle Scott anchoring. The rest of the League is nine seconds behind these two.

The 4×800 will be a tough slough. Three teams — Columbia, Dartmouth and Princeton — have four runners who’ve been under 2:13 this spring. But it’s the Lions with Trina Bills and Big Green with Megan Krumpoch who have potential hammers on the anchor. Cornell certainly can’t be counted out as the Red ran 8:50 at Penn with powerhouse Elyse Wilkinson.

— Brett Hoover

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