Doug Austin photo
Seven Ivy Leaguers earned slots in the NCAA Championships Thursday with advancing performances at the East Preliminaries in Jacksonville, Fla.
Perhaps the most impressive display came from Cornell All-American Stephen Mozia, who moved past Olympic gold medalist Adam Nelson on the Heps’ shot put list with two huge tosses. In the third round he unleashed a toss of 19.97 meters (65-6 1/4) to put himself in solid position to advance, but his fifth throw was even bigger. His 20.38 toss (66-10 1/2) — a PR by more than three feet — was just 3 1/2 inches behind August Wolf’s 32-year-old Heps record. Mozia would take third and book his trip to Nationals in Eugene, Ore.
It was quite a day for the throwers as three Ivy women advanced as well. Princeton sophomore Julia Ratcliffe was hardly a surprise as she flung her hammer 67.51 meters (221-6) to take the top spot. She had five legal throws and even the shortest of them (207-5) would have advanced her to Oregon in third place.
Heps javelin champ Kelsey Hay of Penn had mix of emotions. After getting bumped from the 10th spot to the 12th in the fourth round of throws, she had two rounds of trying to improve upon her 48.89 meter (160-4) best while hoping that none of the four behind her would bump her from that final qualifying spot. None did as she hung on for a trip to the Northwest. But her League record she set at Heps? It didn’t hang on as Harvard’s Hannah Mayer broke it by an inch (50.04 / 164-2) to advance in eighth.
There had been event-delaying storms in Jacksonville early in the day which pushed the 10,000-meter runs late into the evening, but it was no escape from the heat and humidity. [ed. note: Maybe this meet should come North some time.] With 13 runners dropping out of the two races, it was simply survival of the strongest. Two Ivy seniors — Princeton’s Chris Bendtsen (29:51.08, third) and Harvard’s James Leakos (29:54.20, fifth) — advanced to Eugene from the men’s race while an ever-impressive rookie, Princeton freshman Megan Curham (interview with Flotrack), did the same with a fourth-place finish (33:25.12) in the last race of the night.
While seven Ivies advanced to Nationals, two men’s long jumpers — Princeton senior Tom Hopkins and Harvard freshman Elliot Safo — each missed a trip by centimeters. Seventh-place finisher Paul Madzivire of Florida State (7.56 / 24-9 3/4) was just four inches ahead of Hopkins, who was 16th (7.46 / 24-5 3/4). Safo, the Ivy champ, was a centimeter ahead of Hopkins (7.47 / 24-6 1/4).
Of course, Hopkins stayed in the hunt in the 400-meter run with a time of 46.79. He will get his shot at advancing on Friday at 6 pm in a heat that should be quick as it includes Pitt’s Brycen Spratling and Florida’s Arman Hall.
An hour later will be a flurry of Ivy activity as six will take to the track in the 800-meter quarterfinals after advancing on Thursday. For the men it will be Columbia’s Harry McFann (1:48.59), Brown’s Henry Tufnell (1:48.72) and Cornell’s Will Weinlandt (1:48.89) while the women send forth Dartmouth’s Megan Krumpoch (2:04.61), Harvard’s Erika Veidis (2:04.74) and Cornell’s Elyse Wilkinson (2:06.39). Those Thursday times were big personal bests for Krumpoch and Wilkinson. Tufnell talked to Flotrack after his race as did former Princeton runner Andrea Keklak, who advanced to the quarters for Georgetown.
Following the 800s will be the 400-meter hurdles, which will feature the impressive Harvard duo of sophomore Autumne Franklin (58.11) and freshman Jade Miller (58.34) on the women’s side. Cornell’s Max Hairston — the most outstanding runner at Heps — advanced through (51.42) on the men’s side, which means he will compete in the 110-meter high hurdles at 5 pm and the intermediates at 7:30 pm. Franklin — also attempting the hurdles double — will run the prelims of the highs at 5:30 pm, along with Penn’s Gabi Piper.
Cornell All-American Rachel Sorna will begin her pursuit in the steeplechase, where she is the top seed, Friday evening.
Four other Ivy Leaguers advanced to the quarterfinals of the 1,500-meter run on Thursday and will compete on Saturday. They are Dartmouth’s Steve Mangan (3:46.25), Penn’s Thomas Awad (3:49.64) and Columbia’s John Gregorek (3:50.72) for the men and Harvard’s Molly Renfer (4:18.78) for the women. With that time, Renfer joins the Ivy all-time top 10 and knocks out Olympian Anna Willard. Awad spoke to Flotrack following his race.
UPDATE: While seven Ivy Leaguers qualified for Nationals out of Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday, the official count is already at nine. Brown’s Evan Weinstock has already advanced in the decathlon and former Bear Olivia Mickle, now a graduate student at Texas, advanced in the 10k in the West prelims in Fayetteville, Ark., last night (34:08.53, fourth). Two other Ivy Leaguers now at New Mexico — Princeton’s Peter Callahan (3:43.66) and Harvard’s Sammy Silva (4:22.36) — also moved to the next round of the 1,500-meter runs. Like the East, those finals are Saturday.