The contenders in the women sprint events for the Heptagonal Championships at Franklin Field this year seem to be similar from the indoor season and last year. There are many veteran sprinters that are looking to either defend their title or move up in the scoring ranks. Like last year, Cornell, Columbia, and Harvard should be competing for these precious team points.
The top three finishers in the women’s 60m have the top 3 times in the 100m – Danielle Barbian (Harvard) 11.46, Ashley Collinsworth (Harvard) 11.58, and Ashley Cunningham (Columbia) 11.67, even though all are wind-aided. Ivy League record holder Barbian seems to be dominant recently and the one to beat as she also has the fastest legal time of 11.75. Defending champ Kaitlin Whitehorn (Dartmouth) should not be counted out, while the two freshmen, Penn’s Taylor McCorkle (11.86) and Columbia’s Akua Obeng-Akrofi (11.78w) could break up the veteran stronghold as they were 4th and 5th indoors respectively.
Cunningham has the fastest time in the 200m this year; in fact, her indoor time of 23.83 is tops in the ECAC. Yet Barbian, the indoor champ, has been proven hard to beat by any league competitor. Udeme Akpaete (Cornell) was 3rd last year and has run the 4th fastest time, leading to credence of being a definite title contender. Obeng-Akrofi has run well all year (5th indoors) and projects to be just behind these three competitors. Two of last year’s finalists, Jennifer Meech (Dartmouth) and Jaycee Parker (Columbia) could figure in the scoring with a performance close to their personal bests.
Only the 3rd place finisher has not returned from last year’s women’s 400m, which means it may be a virtual repeat this year. Zena Kolliesuah (Cornell) is the defending champ and has the 3rd fastest time outdoors of 54.42, while her teammate Akpaete has the fastest (53.45) and also placed 2nd last year. Akpaete’s PR of 53.24 is almost one second ahead of the field. Expect the title to come from these two ladies. Frosh Candace Taylor (Penn) may surprise and break up this Cornell dominance as she has the 4th best time of 54.52. Emily Cable (Yale), Katie Woodford (Cornell), Meech, Parker and Taylor Hennig (Penn) are all gunning for an improvement in placing from last year. But Princeton’s Cecilia Barowski, should she decide to double from the 800m, could make this final interesting as she ran 54.02 this past weekend and has previously won Heps 400m titles back in 2013.
– Kelsey Armstrong
photos by Doug Austin