Ratcliffe Takes NCAA Title

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Now, she can laugh about it. At least a little.

After Princeton sophomore Julia Ratcliffe became the first female Tiger to win an NCAA track & field championship, winning the hammer with a throw of 66.88 (219-5), she told the assembled masses, with a laugh, “I’m also really proud of myself because last year I kind of bombed.”

The New Zealander had just one legal throw at NCAAs a year ago, as she finished a disappointing 11th. This year she didn’t foul once and any of her top three throws would have put her atop the victory stand at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.

She took the lead with her third throw — 65.39 meters (214-6) — and improved upon it twice in the final rounds. In the end, Colorado senior Emily Hunsucker was the runner up, but nearly seven feet shy of Ratcliffe’s best.

Before this victory, the best finish ever for a Tiger woman was a second-place finish in the 800-meter run by Lauren Simmons in 2002.

For Cornell junior Stephen Mozia, the shot put was a game of inches. His second-round toss of 20.46 meters (67-1 1/2) was less than an inch behind Texas Longhorn Ryan Crouser’s first-flight best (67-2 1/4) and just a half-inch behind Augie Wolf’s Heps record, which has survived a 32nd year.

That throw would prove to be his best of the day and secure him a second straight runner-up spot. “I wish I threw this much farther,” said Mozia, demonstrating just a small margin between his index finger and his thumb. After he fouled on his final attempt, a pressure-free Crouser threw a bomb, 21.12 meters (69-3 1/2), as the winning mark. Afterward, Mozia mentioned Wolf and Adam Nelson as his inspiration to go as far as he can in the sport, beyond his days at Cornell.

Both Ratcliffe and Mozia will be competing at the Commonwealth Games at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland, at the end of July. In addition, Ratcliffe will be throwing in an IAAF event in Hungary while Mozia will compete at both the Nigerian Nationals and the African Championships.

On the track, two other members of the Heps Nation advanced to Friday finals.

Cornell senior Rachel Sorna did it by blazing through the steeplechase, leading from the start to win her semifinal in 9:53.76, three seconds ahead of Olympian Shalaya Kipp, a senior at Colorado. Asked why she opted to run from the front, Sorna said, “It is so much easier in the steeple to have your own space.”

That was especially true after a packing mishap back in Ithaca, when she placed the wrong contacts case into her bag. She wound up wearing her father’s bi-focaled lenses, which impacted her vision when looking down at the barriers. “He’s in the stands half blind,” she said. “I’m half blind.” The situation will be rectified for Friday’s final.

The other finalist — Dartmouth senior Megan Krumpoch — had a nail-biting wait to see if she’d qualified for the 800-meter final. She ran in the first semifinal, in which Alabama senior Yanique Malcolm decided to fly. Malcolm reached the bell in 58.3 as all eight runners dipped under a minute.

Krumpoch hung tough with the likes of Laura Roesler of Oregon, but in the final stretch she nearly came to a stop as Malcolm began to lock up. Despite losing her stride, she was able to swing outside to pass her for the fourth spot in 2:04.96. That put her on the bubble. Each of the next two heats would supply two automatic qualifiers and if a single third-place finisher ran faster than Krumpoch, she wouldn’t advance.

Hampton’s Ce’aira Brown would miss by just .05 in heat two while the hometown crowd wasn’t enough for Oregon’s Annie Leblanc, who missed by more than a quarter-second. Harvard junior Erika Veidis ran 2:06.03 in that third heat.

Other Ivies competing on the first day of the NCAAs included Princeton sophomore Adam Bragg, who was 12th in the pole vault after clearing a personal-best 5.40 meters (17-8 1/2) on his first attempt. His teammate and captain, senior Chris Bendtsen, was ninth in the 10,000-meter run in 29:14.86. Harvard’s James Leakos was initially listed as finishing 21st in 30:54.07, but his result has been switched to a disqualification overnight without explanation.

Harvard’s 400-meter hurdlers — sophomore Autumne Franklin and freshman Jade Miller — both had run-ins with barriers that might have cost them positions in the final. Franklin — who finished in 57.48 — hit the last hurdle and finished less than a quarter-second from an auto spot in her heat. Miller knocked down an early hurdle and had to correct her steps. Her time of 57.91 was 12th of 24, but more than a half-second from an at-large berth.

Columbia senior Harry McFann (1:50.16) and Brown junior Henry Tufnell (1:50.33) failed to advance in the 800-meter run while Penn sophomore Kelsey Hay was 18th in the javelin with a best of 47.28 meters (155-1). Harvard junior Hannah Mayer fouled on all three attempts in that event.

Brown senior Evan Weinstock was 19th after the first day of the decathlon with 3,763 points, but there are five athletes less than 100 points in front of him. His best day-one total came from a 11.02 time in the 100-meter dash.

Weinstock will resume his quest on Thursday while four current Ivy individuals, one relay and three alums begin their competition. Columbia senior John Gregorek and Princeton grad Peter Callahan (now at New Mexico) will run the 1,500 as will Harvard grad Sammy Silva, also now a Lobo. Cornell sophomore Max Hairston (110m hurdles), Princeton junior Eddie Owens (steeplechase), Princeton freshman Megan Curham and Brown grad Olivia Mickle (10k run) and the Cornell women’s 4×400-meter relay will also run.

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