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Megan Curham’s mother seemed to have an overabundance of confidence in her daughter. Early in the year, she was looking to book flights and hotel rooms in advance for regionals and nationals until Megan had to tell her, “Mom, I’m only a freshman.”
But it turns out, mother knew best as her Princeton rookie advanced to nationals in all three seasons this year, capping it off with an 11th-place finish in the 10,000-meter finals Thursday night in Eugene, Ore.
She’d stayed near the frontrunners in the early going, but fell to the back of the lead pack as the pace quickened, thanks to Michigan freshman Erin Finn turning up the heat.
As gaps began to form in the later stages of the race, Curham and Texas grad student Olivia Mickle, who ran as an undergrad at Brown, were an island of their own in 11th and 12th place. Curham held her place, finishing in 33:29.03, three seconds in front of her chasers. But Mickle fell back just a tad, taking 16th in 33:33.30.
Another Ivy graduate took to the track earlier in the day. Peter Callahan, who anchored Princeton to a national title in the distance medley in 2013, has found outdoor track more than a bit frustrating. Because of a series of injuries, he hasn’t had a full outdoor campaign since his freshman year in Orange and Black.
But now, as a New Mexico grad student, he looked very comfortable in earning a spot in the 1,500-meter final in his first trip to Hayward Field. He watched the first of two heats go slow, so he figured Arizona star Lawi Lalang would take his semifinal out fast. Lalang did and Callahan sat back, making sure no gaps formed in front of him. He quickened his pace on the final lap and cruised to the line in 3:41.52 to get his “big Q.”
Callahan talked about his health afterward with Gordon Mack of Flotrack, offering, “I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt.” And if that’s the case, everyone should be on notice for Saturday’s final. Columbia senior John Gregorek didn’t make the final, tying up on the final stretch to finish in 3:47.68, more than a second behind an advancing time. Gregorek will run at Hayward Field as an Oregon Duck next year.
The Cornell women’s 4×400-meter relay had another fine showing, finishing in 3:34.94. Before the Big Red’s breakthrough at the East Preliminaries, no Heps team had ever dipped below 3:35. But now the foursome of Elyse Wilkinson, Zena Kolliesuah, Ebolutalese Airewele and Udeme Akpaete has done it twice. Cornell did not advance to the final, but in finishing 13th overall, it is in good company with the likes of Baylor, Clemson, Texas Tech, UConn, South Carolina and Duke.
Meanwhile, Cornell sophomore Max Hairston completed a break-out season with a 14th place in the 110-meter hurdles. The new Heps record holder in the event finished in 13.96. Princeton junior Eddie Owens didn’t have his best performance on Thursday, finishing the steeple in 9:05.28, but he is in position to return next spring.
And finally, Brown senior Evan Weinstock closed his career with a 20th-place showing in the decathlon. With 7,026 points, his biggest scoring haul on Thursday came with a 14.99 clocking in the 110-meter hurdles.
Friday will be huge day for Heps as Montez Blair (Cornell) and Maalik Reynolds (Penn) go for glory in the high jump while Stephen Mozia (Cornell) and Sam Mattis (Penn) try to make some national noise in the discus throw. Later in the day, Dartmouth’s Megan Krumpoch will compete in the 800-meter run final while Cornell’s Rachel Sorna will be among the favorites in the steeplechase.
The day will conclude with the men’s 5k run, which features John Bleday and Curtis King of Dartmouth and Tom Purnell of Harvard.