Men’s 800m Trials – Saturday, 3:45pm | Finals – Sunday, 2:10pm
Men’s 1,000m Trials – Saturday, 4:00pm | Finals – Sunday, 2:30pm
Men’s Mile Trials – Saturday, 2:45pm | Finals – Sunday, 12:10pm
While men’s middle distance might not be experiencing any schedule changes – they’ve handled the plethora of events for years now – the entries and the races will be no less interesting than on the women’s side. In the last several years, the Heps gentlemen have put on some truly great performances in the half mile to mile range, and have successfully established the Ivy League as a middle-distance powerhouse within the NCAA. With the continuation of that tradition so far this season, expect to see a number of great races from these men this weekend.
Although no one has broken the elusive 4-minute barrier yet this season, the myriad of athletes sitting on the cusp will undoubtedly make the mile one of the hottest events of the meet. Atop the list sits Penn junior Thomas Awad with his 4:00.20 clocking at the Armory Track Invitational back in January. Awad has broken that barrier before (3:58.34 at the Penn Relays last spring), and his races so far this season indicate that he is more than capable of doing so again. A sub-4 performance may very well be what it takes to win this title as Columbia sophomore Rob Napolitano has also run 4:00.64. Add in Dartmouth junior Curtis King a second back at 4:01.45 and this race could get really interesting. Behind them are five athletes have run 4:02 so far this season, including James Randon (Yale), Joey Chapin (Dartmouth), and Brendon Fish (Columbia). Dan Nestor of Columbia is the only returner from the 2014 mile final who is in the top 20 this year, with a season’s best time of 4:07.
The men’s lists show heavy overlap between the mile and the 1,000m. Fish, who is ranked 6th in the mile, has the best season performance in the 1,000m at 2:20.83. He is followed closely by freshman teammate Spencer Haik and junior Ned Willig of Brown, both at 2:21. Currently with the 4th best mark is Napolitano (2nd in the mile). Although the mile/1000m double has been done before (Nick Wade of Cornell at the 2013 Indoor Heps at Harvard, finished 2nd in both), it is fairly unlikely we will see it again this year. Where the Columbia team decides to place Fish and Napolitano will have a huge impact on how this race plays out, but no matter who enters it will be highly competitive for sure. Look for Brown senior Henry Tufnell and Princeton freshman Garret O’Toole to potentially be in the mix of things as well come this weekend.
In the 800m, two breakout performances earlier in the season indicate that the Ivy League may be in for an epic showdown. While Columbia senior Connor Claflin ran an impressive 1:48.67 at the BU Valentine Invitational two weeks ago (6th all-time in the Ivy-League), Cornell sophomore James Gowans had his own outstanding run of 1:49.78 at the Spire Invitational out in Ohio on the same day. With these two gentlemen hot off the PR train, the final on Sunday could be one of the highlights of the meet. If Tufnell decides to forgo the 1,000m, his 1:50.05 seasons’ best performance (and 1:47.99 lifetime PR) will only deepen an already incredibly deep field. Also throwing their hats in the ring could be Conner Reck (Harvard), Bradley Paternostro (Princeton), and Jonas Aranda (Harvard) – all of whom have run 1:50 so far this season.
– Rachel Sorna (Cornell, ’14)
photo by Kevin Morris