iHeps15: Women’s Distance

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Schedule:
Women’s 3,000m – Saturday, 12:50pm
Women’s 5,000m – Sunday, 3:00pm

For the better part of three years, the face of Ivy League women’s distance running has been that of recent Dartmouth grad and newly-signed New Balance athlete Abbey D’Agostino. Yes, the graduation of the 7-time NCAA title holder has meant the end of an era, but the resurgence of Ivy women’s distance running that she was a part of is far from over. Despite the loss of senior talent in 2014, the League has maintained a high level of competition, driven by both new and returning athletes. Even with the schedule changes (3,000m now on Saturday and the 5,000m now on Sunday), expect to see some big performances on both days from the distance ladies this upcoming weekend.

In the 3,000m, one athlete has established herself as the clear favorite – Dartmouth junior Dana Giordano. She won the Invitational 3,000m at the BU Terrier Invite a month ago in dominating fashion, running a huge PR of 9:07.28 in the process. That performance, now 3rd all-time in the Ivy League, is the 11th best in the NCAA so far this season and is well-within that coveted Sweet 16.  As the champion from a year ago on her home track, Giordano is more than ready to defend her title. The race for second place is shaping up to be a great one indeed with a number of breakthrough performances significantly increasing the depth of the League. With season best marks below 9:30, anticipate seeing Yale senior Kira Garry, Princeton sophomore Megan Curham, Cornell sophomore Taylor Spillane, and Cornell junior Caroline Keller in the hunt for those other top spots. And if one of them should falter on Saturday, look for any one of the additional 7 women who have run between 9:30.39 and 9:32.86 this season to step up and score points for their team. Also keep an eye on Princeton junior Emily de la Bruyere. Although she has flown under the radar so far this season, she came up big at last year’s Indoor Heps scoring in both the mile and the 3,000m and can’t be counted out.

The 5,000m, the meet’s last individual track event, could offer a bit more suspense in terms of who will take home the title. Curham, the highest returning finisher from the race a year ago, is currently sitting atop the list with her 16:24.53 season’s best time. After a string of runner-up finishes her freshman year, Curham earned her first Heps title this past fall at the Cross Country Championships. While those credentials do make her the favorite heading into this weekend, she will have her hands full holding off several highly capable challengers. Garry and Kellner have been consistent all season, setting PR’s at multiple distances, and are more than ready to compete for top honors. Joining them in the pack of contenders will be Harvard senior Whitney Thornburg, Columbia junior Leila Mantilla, and Yale junior Elizabeth McDonald.

 – Rachel Sorna (Cornell, ’14)
photo by Doug Austin

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