Relay teams competing in the 2015 Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track and Field Championships had better bring their “A” game if they wish to come close to breaking a record or inching toward the championship title.
Princeton, Cornell and Penn enter the meet as the top three contenders in the men’s 4×100 meter relay event. Last year, Cornell and Princeton claimed the top two spots, both teams running well under 41 seconds, edging out Penn who placed third. Tigers Dre Nelson, John Hill, Jake Scinto and Carrington Akosa have posted a 40.68 this outdoor season, which gives them the top seed going into these championships. Cornell’s team comprised of Ryan Hynes, Larry Gibson, Ryan Weigel and Brailin Paulio will have to run nearly a second faster to challenge Princeton. Wyatt David, Brandon Senior, Harrison Scharf and Ben Bowers of Penn will also have their work cut out for them as they trail Cornell by .09 tenths of a second in this championship lineup.
Another Princeton quartet of Bryant Switzer, Joshua Freeman, Greg Leeper and Ray Mennin could win the 4×400 meter relay if they have enough left in the tank for the final event of the two-day competition. This lowerclassmen foursome has clocked a season’s best of 3:12.73, which places them ahead of Brown’s Ryan Kelly, Zachery Emrich, Ben Ostrowski and Tosin Oyewole who have recorded a 3:13.80 this year at Penn Relays. Cornell won the event in 2014 but Michael Smith, Cisco Olloqui, Larry Gibson and Tobenna Attah may have to run faster than their mark of 3:14.31 to have a repeat of last year.
Columbia will return two members of its winning 4×800 meter relay team for this year’s race.Brendon Fish and Rob Napolitano will join teammates Spencer Haik and Connor Claflin with the hopes of continuing their reign for the third consecutive year in the event. The Lions have run 7:21.59 but will have to shave off close to a second if they intend on breaking their own record set in 2012 of 7:20.53. The chase for second place between Brown and Penn will include Ostrowski, Henry Tufnell, Zachery Emrich and Ned Willig of Brown and Penn’s Clark Mangini, Jeff Wiseman, Tom Timmins and Drew Magaha.
On the women’s side, the 4×100 meter race could come down to a photo finish like last year’s final. Cornell’s team, including Adrian Jones, Udeme Akpaete, Zena Kolliesuah Katie Woodford, posted a 45.57 earlier this season, which is the fastest time going into this competition. Crimson’s Ashley Collinsworth, Jade Miller, Christi Scott and Danielle Barbain will challenge Cornell for the title. This veteran team has run a 45.85 this season less than a second shy of their winning time from last year. Dartmouth will also bring an experienced team to compete in the 4×100 meter relay. Kaitlin Whitehorn, Anna Kikut and Jennifer Meech helped Darmouth place second in the event last year; they will be joined by Marissa Evans.
Cornell and Harvard will duke it out again in the women’s 4×400 meter relay. Woodford, Kolliesuah, Akpaeta and Elyse Wilkinson could come close to challenging the Heptagonal record of 3:35.69 set by Columbia in 2010. This upperclassmen team has already clocked a 3:36.26, which stands among an All-Time Ivy best. Harvard is not too far behind Cornell in rankings with a 3:38.79. The team of Autumne Franklin, Gabrielle Scott, Christi Scott and Miller, will have to run strategic and keep a close distance between Harvard during the 1600 meet race. Tiger’s Jasmine Blocker, Cecilia Barowski, Kim Mackay, and Joanna Anyanwu are also expected to grab a spot on the medal stand this year.
Penn will try to secure the 4×800 meter title after falling short in 2014 with a disqualification. At Penn Relays, Taylor Hennig, Candace Taylor, Carey Celata and Ashley Montgomery ran 8:40.63. The race for second place between Dartmouth and Cornell will ensue as both teams have run 8:47.72 and 8:47.78 respectively. Dartmouth’s team of Bridget O’Neill, Elizabeth Markowitz, Bridget Flynn and Meghan Grela may have to duke it out with Cornell’s Shannon Hugard, Wilkinson, Leah Triller and Kristin Niedrach for a close finish.
– Nell Smith
top photo by Jay Gorodetzer; side photo by Doug Austin