If there’s a national championship event happening at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., the Ivy League is heavily involved. That was true earlier this month at the NCAA Championships, where six members of the Heps Nation earned All-America status. And now 20 current and former Leaguers will be looking to earn a spot at the IAAF World Championships as a top-three finisher at the USATF National Championships later this week.
Things start on Thursday and run through the weekend and it is expected to be hot — blazing hot. Weather.com reports that temperatures could reach triple digits on Friday and Saturday. Yikes!
Of course, that type of weather affects middle-distance and distance runners the most. And that’s a group that is broadly represented by the Heps Nation.
Current USA Track National Athlete of the Week Ben True (Dartmouth) is entered in both the 5k and 10k for the men while two women — Liz Costello (Princeton) and Alexi Pappas (Dartmouth) — are listed on the start list in both of those distances.
True is actually looking beyond Nationals, recently telling Sarah Barker that there isn’t a hint of defeatism in his game, “Every time I toed the line, I tried to do as well as I could. I was aware that East Africans are dominant, but I never wrote them off as unbeatable. I’m a very competitive person; if they’re racing me, whoever it is, I’m going to try to beat them.”
Back in Oregon, current Heps star Thomas Awad (Penn) and seven-time NCAA champion Abbey D’Agostino (Dartmouth) are both entered in the 5,000-meter runs. Carrie Dimoff (Princeton) is entered in the 10k.
The League also has quite a share in the 1,500-meter runs and steeplechases. Four Ivy men are in the 1,500 — led by Kyle Merber (Columbia), who recently dipped under 3:35. The others are Will Geoghegan (Dartmouth), Peter Callahan (Princeton) and Joe Stilin (Princeton). Olympian finalist Morgan Uceny (Cornell) is the lone Leaguer in the women’s race. She withdrew from the Diamond League stop in Oslo, Norway, a week ago because she didn’t want to take risks heading into Nationals.
Another Ivy Olympic finalist — Donn Cabral (Princeton) — is entered in the steeplechase, along with Henry Sterling (Dartmouth). In the women’s steeple, standout Ashley Higginson (Princeton) is a legitimate threat to advance to Beijing for the World Champs in August. Megan Krumpoch (Dartmouth) is the last Heps’ runner in the mix with her listing on the 800-meter run start list.
Dave Johnson — both the director of the Penn Relays and a member of the HepsTrack team — produced the men’s form chart for Track & Field News and predicted second place for Cabral and True (in the 10k) and fifth for Merber. T&FN gave another HepsTrack friend — Jack Pfeifer — the crystal ball for the women and he has Higginson fourth, D’Agostino fifth and Uceny, Costello and Pappas each eighth.
The rest of the entries are all men’s throwers. Olympian Sean Furey (Dartmouth) will rep the Heps in the javelin while two recent NCAA champs are entered as well. Discus champ Sam Mattis (Penn) and hammer champ Conor McCullough (Princeton, won competing for Southern Cal) will be looking for Team USA slot. Both will have an Ivy mate in their event — Bryan Powlen (Brown) in the disc and Rudy Winkler (Cornell) in the hammer. Johnson has Furey and McCullough both ranked third in his pre-meet projections.
Five current Leaguers will also compete in the Junior Nationals, which are intertwined with the schedule at Nationals. Steeplechaser Ross Wilson (Penn) and hammer throwers Gabriel Arcaro (Princeton) and Colin Minor (Dartmouth) will compete with the men while two women will perform double duty. Kylene Cochrane (Penn) is listed in both the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs while Josie Natrasevschi (Brown) is entered in both the discus and hammer.
There are also four Heps champions competing in the Jamaican Championships at National Stadium in Kingston this weekend, where conditions are expected to include gusty winds and temperatures in the low 90s.
They are ageless hammer thrower Natalie Grant (Harvard), siblings Imani Oliver (Princeton) and Darryll Oliver (Penn) and youngster Damon McLean (Princeton).
Grant — who is actually just 34 years old — held the Heps’ record in the hammer at 195-6 from 2002 to 2010. Imani Oliver — an extraordinary triple jumper — is the only person to beat Nadia Eke at Outdoor Heps. Her brother Darryll pulled off a stunning wire-to-wire Heps’ 800m win at Penn in 2009. McLean will compete in the triple jump, an event he won seven times at Indoor and Outdoor Heps.