Back On The Scene

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Kim Spir image

For two Heps champions, the trip to USA Outdoor Nationals in Sacramento, Calif., confirmed an upward trajectory. While two others are looking to re-establish the greatness that took them to the finals of the 2012 London Olympics today.

Princeton grad Ashley Higginson smashed through her steeplechase personal best by seven seconds in the final, taking silver behind Olympian Emma Coburn, who broke the previous meet standard of 9:27.59 set by Brown grad Anna Willard. Amazingly, Higginson’s second-place time was an exact match of Willard’s mark set in 2008. Also, only five Americans have ever posted a faster time.

Brown grad Bryan Powlen is also looking more and more like a potential Olympian come 2016. In May he established a personal best in the discus throw, heaving it 62.81 meters (206-1), and at Nationals Friday he took silver behind Hayden Reed with a best of 61.05 (200-3). Powlen beat the likes of Mason Finley, Russ Winger and Lance Brooks.

Five Ivy League standouts will be in touch on Sunday with a special focus on Princeton grad Donn Cabral and Cornellian Morgan Uceny. Those two advanced to the finals in London two summers ago, but have been through struggle to return to that form.

A year ago Cabral was battling Lyme disease, which forced him to shut down his season early. He also decided to return from the Northwest to train back East with the New Jersey*New York Track Club, which has a number of the Heps Nation stars on its roster.

Cabral posted a fine 5k time early this season, but Friday stepped back into his specialty — the steeplechase — for the first time in a year. He posted the second-fastest qualifying time (8:34.77) to advance to Sunday’s final (4:52 pm) and after his return, he told Flotrack that it was a “good welcome back to the steeple.” Regardless of Sunday’s outcome he seems confident heading into the summer.

Uceny — who was famously tripped up perhaps 400 meters from an Olympic medal in London — is also returning from physical malady and training disruption. Her hard fall at the Olympics left her with a back injury and she spent a year in Great Britain training with Terrance Mahon, but they returned to the States last September. Earlier this season — at the adidas Grand Prix in New York — Uceny ran 4:04.87, her best 1500m time since 2012.

A two-time champion at USA Outdoors, Uceny won her first-round 1500m race in 4:09.74 to advance to the final (5:39 pm), where she will face a stellar field which includes Yale graduate Kate Grace. Grace, running before her family on Friday, finished strong to qualify from the second heat in 4:09.55.

Also competing today are two other Olympians — javelin throwers Sean Furey (Dartmouth) and Craig Kinsley (Brown) — who get started a 3 pm.

In other Ivy action in Sacramento, Princeton undergraduate Cecilia Barowski advanced to the semifinals of the 800m run with an eye-opening time of 2:02.14. She ran five seconds off that pace in the semis, but is obviously prepped to do damage if she returns to Heps. She has two years of eligibility remaining. Penn grad Jesse Carlin also ran the 800m, but failed to advance after a 2:05.99 in the first round.

Abbey D’Agostino, who recently graduated from Dartmouth to Team New Balance, opted to sit out the 5,000m run after a long college track season that yielded three national titles and a fourth All-America finish. But her former Big Green teammate Alexi Pappas was seventh in 15:28.38. On the men’s side, Princeton alum Joe Stilin was 11th with a time of 13:48.05.

In the 10k runs, Cornell grad Katie Kellner finished eighth (33:06.82) with Princeton alum Carrie Dimoff in 13th (33:34.01) while the men’s race featured Tiger Chris Bendtsen (14th, 30:05.18).

Columbia’s Liam Boylan-Pett was 11th in the final of 1,500m run (3:45.58) after advancing from the first round in 3:42.85. Just missing the final was his former Lion teammate Kyle Merber, whose 3:45.26 was a quarter-second shy of advancing to the big race. Dartmouth grad Matt Minor (3:54.19) also ran in the first round.

Two other current Ivy Leaguers — Harvard rising junior Autumne Franklin and Princeton rising senior Eddie Owens — closed long seasons at Nationals without advancing. Franklin ran 1:00.02 in the 400m hurdles while Owens posted 9:10.56 in the steeplechase.

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