Princeton on the Podium

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Princeton got two athletes on the podium yesterday, while Harvard hopes to add one of their own tomorrow.

Princeton’s Stephen Soerens capped off his senior year with a top-8 finish in the decathlon with a new personal best that is the second best score in Ivy League history.  He was sitting in fourth place at the end of Day 1 with 4,091 points.  He started off Day 2 with an average performance for him in the 110m hurdles by running 16.05 (725 points).  It did not help him in the overall standings as he dropped from 4th to 10th place.  He chipped away at the standings with his discus, pole vault, and javelin performances, climbing into 6th place after the javelin was complete.  His best discus throw 41.76m was one of his better all-time throws, while his pole vault clearance (4.30m) and javelin throws (61.09, 200-05) were both personal bests.  Soerens secured his 6th place finish by running 4:37.74 in the 1,500m portion (note – this was the only event of the meet where Soerens scored less than 700 points).  In the end, Soerens smashed his personal best that he set en route to winning the Outdoor Heps title (7,319 point) by completing NCAAs with a new best of 7,669 points.  “I knew I had a big meet coming,” Soerens told Princeton Athletics Communications, “I was getting faster and I was really peaking for this meet. I knew if I put things together I’d come up with a big score.”.  The NCAA title went to Georgia’s Maicel Uibo who won with 8,356 points.prtf-ratcliffe-ncaa

Princeton got a second top-8 finisher from Julia Ratcliffe.  Ratcliffe came into the NCAA hammer throw championships as the defending champion and a title contender, even though she was ranked 3rd in the country going into the meet.  The event was indeed a battle, as Ratcliffe had to contend with Bowling Green’s Brooke Pleger (#1 in the country) and Southern Illinois’ DeAnna Price (#4 in the country). At the end of her flight, she was ranked second overall with a distance of 67.30m (220-09), only 3 centimeters back from the leader Price but almost a meter ahead of Pleger.  In the final three throws, Ratcliffe tried to catch up to Price as Price surpassed the 70m mark and ultimately threw 71.49m (a new championship meet record) on her final throw.  Unfortunately, Ratcliffe did not improve upon her 67.30m had to settle for a runner-up finish.  “This spring, overall it has been good. I haven’t hit my PR, but I was building there. I was improving every meet until Regionals, but obviously not a PR I’m not that happy about it. Honestly, as I said before these girls are great friends of mine. They’ve worked so hard so I can’t put them down for their excellent performances… I’m a little disappointed in my throwing, but hey I came in ranked third and came out second, so I can’t complain.” Ratcliffe shared with Princeton Athletics Communications after she was finished.

Harvard will have one athlete in contention for a top-8 finish on Saturday as sophomore Jade Miller qualified for her first ever NCAA final in the 400m hurdles.  Both Miller and her teammate Autumne Franklin were in heat 3 and assigned to side-by-side lanes. Qualifiers for the finals would be the top 2 finishers of each heat, followed by the next 2 fastest times.  Miller and Franklin finished 3rd and 4th in their heat, running 56.82 and 57.21, respectively.  Miller’s time was the fourth fastest of all of the semifinal participants and was deemed the fastest non-auto qualifier.  Franklin, while running the 9th fastest time of all of the participants, did not make the final cut.  Cornell frosh Taysia Radoslav also competed in the 400m hurdle semifinals, where she finished 7th in her heat with a time of 59.38.

In other Ivy action from Day 2:

– Princeton’s Elizabeth Bird had an unlucky race in the 3,000m steeplechase semifinals.  On her first lap, she got stepped on from behind and fell on the first lap.  While Bird tried to get back into the race, she had spent a lot of energy while trying to make up that lost ground and ultimately faded.  Her finishing time was 10:51.92.

– Princeton’s Cecilia Barowski was in the fastest of the 800m semifinal heats.  She finished 7th in her heat with a time of 2:08.94.  After the race, Barowski said that her legs felt tight during the entire race which made it difficult to keep with the main pack.

– In the women’s javelin throw, Penn’s Kelsey Hay and Harvard’s Hannah Mayer competed in their second straight NCAA championships.  Hay managed to get two legal throws in the competition, having a best mark of 47.85m (157-0) that placed her 13th overall.  Mayer finished 21st overall with her 45.41m (148-1) throw.  Irena Sediva of Virginia Tech won the event with a 58.76m (192-09) throw.

– Harvard’s Nikki Okwelogu had an off-day at the NCAA championships.  In the shot put, she only got one legal throw in – 15.89m (52-01.75) – which was good enough for a 17th place finish.  Only the top 9 marks made it to the finals.

– Princeton’s Megan Curham did her best to make the 10km final an honest race by leading the race for the first 11 laps.  After that point, the field started to pass her.  Curham tried to stay with the lead group, but the strong wind conditions made it challenging to keep up.  Curham would finish in 12th place with a time of 34:09.08.  The event was won by Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel in 33:18.37.  Columbia transfer Waverly Neer finished in 5th place with a new PR of 33:26.98, helping Oregon score 4 points to remain in the team title competition.

– If you were a Cornell fan and you were watching the 4×400 semis, you were probably going through a whole range of emotions during the race.  Advancement to the 4×400 finals required a top 2 heat finish.  By the end of the second leg, Cornell was behind the field by about 2 seconds and needed a herculean effort in order to get back into contention.  Taysia Radoslav – who ran the 400m hurdles earlier in the day – ran the 3rd fastest 400m split of the field (53.67) to gain ground by the time she handed it off to Udeme Akpaete.  Akpaete ran 52.54 on her anchor leg to pass Kansas State in the final 100m and ultimately finish 7th in their heat.  Cornell’s final time of 3:36.56 would not qualify them for the finals, but it was an impressive finish by the Big Red squad.  Katie Woodford and Zena Kolliesuah ran the first two legs of the relay.

The men will finish their NCAA action today, as we have Ivy competitors in the men’s high jump (Penn’s Mike Monroe), discus throw (Penn’s Sam Mattis and Noah Kennedy-White), 1500m final (Peter Callahan and Johnny Gregorek), and 5km (Dartmouth/Oregon’s Will Geoghegan and Penn’s Thomas Awad).

photos from Princeton Athletics Communications

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