Loaded Weekend, Part 1

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In HepsNation’s last loaded weekend before HepsXC, we figured we’ll try to get a jump on the recaps early, otherwise a single recap post will be a novel.  Almost all of the A-squads will be participating in either the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational or the Pre-Nationals Invitational as a means to get qualifying points for NCAAs (as well as a psychological edge as these meets can be a bit of a HepsXC preview).

The Wisconsin Adidas Invitational kicks off the weekend as both teams from Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Princeton made the trek out to Madison.  Race day conditions seem ideal for the runner – sunny and 45 degrees about an hour before the start of the women’s race with a reasonable 9 mph wind.

The women’s race featured 20 ranked teams, including the #1 New Mexico Lobos (who includes Harvard alumna Molly Renfer) and #25 Princeton Tigers, while Columbia, Dartmouth, and Harvard were all receiving votes on the national poll.

This race also provided our first head-to-head matchup between individual HepsXC faves of Dana Giordano (Dartmouth), Courtney Smith (Harvard), and Elizabeth Bird (Princeton).

All three ladies went out quickly with some of the race favorites – Sarah Collins of Providence, Dominique Scott of Arkansas, Molly Seidel of Notre Dame to name a few .  Because of the tight leading pack so early in the race, Smith (6:43), Giordano (6:43), and Bird (6:44) were all within 2 seconds of each other but spread out across 17 places.  The time spread remained about the same at the 4km checkpoint, with Smith (13:32) leading the Ivy group ahead of Giordano (13:33) and Bird (13:34).  Renfer was just behind Bird at the 4km checkpoint, also in 13:34.

Over the course of the final 2km, Bird and Renfer moved up in the field, with Bird passing her Ivy rivals to finish as the top Ivy undergrad in the field in 14th place to just miss breaking the 20 minute barrier for a 6km (20:00.8).  It should be noted that Bird finished just ahead of William and Mary’s Emily Stites, who beat Bird at the Princeton Inter-Regional Meet a few weeks ago.  Renfer has really blossomed under the tutelage of Joe Franklin at New Mexico as she finished 10th overall in 19:55.5 to be the Lobos #5 runner and securing the team title.  Smith crossed the line as the #2 Ivy in 16th place (20:04.2) while Giordano was a few seconds back in 19th place (20:07.7).  This is the second time this season that Smith has bested Giordano in a cross country race as she bested Giordano at the Battle in Beantown back in September.  Princeton’s Emily de La Bruyere and Columbia’s Natalie Tanner joined this group in finishing in the top 35, as de La Bruyere finished 30th (20:20.6) while Tanner was 34th (20:21.7).  The race was won by Boise State frosh Allie Ostrander in a new course record time of 19:19.5, breaking the course record that was held by Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino (19:31 from 2013).

In the team battle, the Princeton women were the unofficial best Ivy team as they finished 13th overall with 421 points, followed by Columbia (17th with 481 points), Dartmouth (20th with 500 points), and Harvard (26th with 600 points).  Both Princeton and Columbia had similar scoring spreads: 1:22.0 to 1:22.9.  Princeton will have the edge going into HepsXC as they have the better #1 runner, but if Columbia can get that spread down, they could still have a shot at the team title.

Ivy Women in the top 100:

10. Molly Renfer (Harvard-New Mexico), 19:55.5
14. Elizabeth Bird (Princeton), 20:00.8
16. Courtney Smith (Harvard), 20:04.2
19. Dana Giordano (Dartmouth), 20:07.7
30. Emily de La Bruyere (Princeton), 20:20.6
34. Natalie Tanner (Columbia), 20:21.7
50. Whitney Thornburg (Harvard-New Mexico), 20:30.1
61. Olivia Sadler (Columbia), 20:35.6
92. Leila Mantilla (Columbia), 20:55.6

The men’s 8km race was just as loaded as the women’s – #2 Syracuse and #4 Stanford are among the entries with #27 Princeton and #28 Columbia, while Dartmouth is receiving votes – but the race rolled out a bit differently.  The first mile was run in around 4:50, 2km in 6:00, 4km in 12:12, 6km in 18:16.  At the 6km point, the difference in time between 1st and 220th place was 20 seconds.  It stayed as a big pack for THAT long.  It made it hard for some athletes who started out more conservatively to move up once the breakaway finally did come just after the 6km point.

Columbia’s Aubrey Myjer and Tait Rutherford were in good positioning when that break occurred, as both men were the only Ivies in the top 50 at the 6km (they were sitting 29th and 30th in 18:19, 3 seconds back of the leaders).  With the pace finally picking up and crowd thinning out, Myjer used this opportunity to pass his teammate and essentially have his major cross country breakthrough as he crossed the finish line as the top Ivy in 19th place in 23:52.5.  Rutherford was the next to cross the line as he finished 43rd in 24:07.7.   Jack Boyle of Columbia edged out former Harvard runner Dan Milechman (now running for New Mexico) for 59th place (both were given the time of 24:14.8).

Columbia having two runners in the top 50 helped them finish as the top Ivy in the men’s race.  The Lions unofficially finished 10th overall with 363 points, destroying their Ivy competitors as Dartmouth – led by Curtis King in 98th place – was in 20th with 485 points, Princeton – led by Michael Sublette in 72nd place – in 31st with 677 points, and Harvard – led by Thomas Purnell’s 100th place finish – in 32nd with 757 points.  Many running experts say that Columbia was the biggest surprise in the race as they finished better by 7 positions of their original seeding of 17th, while Princeton underperformed as they finished 13 positions worse than their seeding of 16th.  Of the Ivy squads, Dartmouth had the shortest scoring spread with 25.3 seconds across their five scorers, one of eight teams in the entire field that had a scoring spread of less than 30 seconds.

Ivy Men in the top 100:

19. Aubrey Myjer (Columbia), 23:52.5
43. Tait Rutherford (Columbia), 24:07.7
59. Jack Boyle (Columbia), 24:14.8
60. Dan Milechman (Harvard-New Mexico), 24:14.8
73. Michael Sublette (Princeton), 24:18.2
88. Sam Ritz (Columbia), 24:23.9
91. Noah Kauppila (Princeton), 24:24.9
98. Curtis King (Dartmouth), 24:27.0

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