Doug Austin Photo
For Rachel Sorna, not all fourth-place finishes are alike.
Last year the women’s steeplechase went out fast and Sorna didn’t go with the leaders. Before the midway point she was already well behind eventual champion Emma Coburn and two others. “I was never in it,” she remembered. She did take fourth, but well behind the lead pack.
She was fourth again on Friday, this time in 9:46.96. “It was totally different,” Sorna told Flotrack. “I was in it. I gave myself the best shot I could.”
After the race settled, Sorna found the most consistent pace, running four straight laps within a quarter-second of another. She then picked up her pace on the penultimate lap and hammered past Olympian Shalaya Kipp of Colorado on the final turn to secure fourth. It was Michigan State’s Leah O’Connor who took the surprising victory, running away in 9:36.43.
With a smile on her face, Sorna said that it might be her last race. With graduate school ahead, she plans a break — possibly a forever break — from competition. “I don’t want to be a full-time runner,” she said.
The Ivy League had five All-Americans on the night. [ed. note: HepsTrack.com considers only the top eight as All-Americans. More than 200 athletes of each gender getting honored is clearly enough.] Joining Sorna were three other seniors — Dartmouth’s Megan Krumpoch, Cornell’s Montez Blair and Penn’s Maalik Reynolds — and Quaker sophomore Sam Mattis.
Krumpoch picked a fine time to post her best 800-meter time. She ran at the back of the pack, staying out of trouble, for much of the race and turned it on down the homestretch, passing Stanford’s Amy Weissenbach into fifth place with a 2:03.82 finish. It was all according to plan.
“I knew it was going to be a fast race,” Krumpoch said. “I just wanted to put myself in a good position at the end where I could make a move and get by some people. I am pleased with how that worked out for me today.”
It was fitting that Blair and Reynolds shared a spot on the podium, tying for seventh place in the high jump. The two have had so many spirited battles at Heps over the years, they concluded their careers together as All-Americans. Windy conditions made it tough for the jumpers as only six competitors cleared 2.20 meters (7-2 1/2) after 12 do so a year ago. Neither Ivy Leaguer missed a jump until that height, settling for a final clearance of 2.15 (7-0 1/2), well below the capabilities of each.
Mattis posted a second-round discus toss of 60.33 meters (197-11) to put him among the leaders, but could not improve from there. Despite finishing fifth, the frustrating thing for Mattis and Cornell junior Stephen Mozia (who was 13th at 57.34 meters, 188-1) is that both could have won. Mattis has been within a foot of the winning mark (205-10, Hayden Reed of Alabama) while Mozia threw further at the East qualifier.
The final Ivy competitors of the night were three 5k runners — Harvard sophomore Tom Purnell, Dartmouth sophomore Curtis King and Dartmouth junior John Bleday. All three gained valuable experience, but did not play a role in the race that will be long remembered for Lawi Lalang beating Edward Cheserek to the tape. Purnell was first across the line among the Ivies, taking 20th in 14:14.07.
Saturday brings the NCAA Championships to conclusion. Heps begins with the first event — the men’s triple jump — at 3:30 pm. Princeton senior All-American Damon McLean and Harvard freshman Efe Uwaifo will battle the best in that one. At 5:18 pm, former Tiger Peter Callahan, now running as a New Mexico grad student, will face Lalang in the 1,500-meter run final.
And then it finishes at 6:24 pm with D’Ags last stand. Seven-time national champion Abbey D’Agostino runs for the Big Green for the last time in the 5,000-meter run. She has won the event each of the last two years. Sophomore teammate Dana Giordano and Columbia junior Waverly Neer are also be running along side.