The defending HepsXC champions are looking to keep the team trophy in Princeton for another year. After dominating the HYP tri-meet in early September with a 28 second scoring spread, the Princeton men had their best meet of the season so far at the Princeton Inter-Regional Invitational. On their home course, they finished 2nd in the team standings with a 14.1 second scoring spread and by placing two athletes in the individual top 10. In the process, not only did they beat conference rivals Columbia, but they also bested two nationally ranked teams and other teams that were receiving votes in the national poll. The result placed Princeton back on the national rankings at #27. Unfortunately, a sub-par team showing at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational resulted in Princeton getting beaten by Columbia and Dartmouth AND losing the conference ranking. HepsXC will be their chance at redemption – they need a winning performance at Van Cortlandt Park in order to get back into the NCAA qualifying scene.
Princeton does return four runners who finished in the top 20 of last year’s HepsXC race – Michael Sublette, Sam Berger, Will Bertrand, and Wolfgang Beck. Sublette came within 1.1 seconds of winning his first Heps title last year, losing to one of Penn’s Thomas Awad’s kicks. It was the first time Sublette had finished as the team’s #1 runner. This year, Sublette has become the team leader as he’s finished as either the team’s #1 or #2 runner in each race he has participated in. Bertrand had a great start to his junior season by forcing the HYP individual title to come down to a kick, but he has not been seen on the competition scene since that event. If he does run on Friday, he will be essential to the team scoring.
While Bertrand, Beck, and Berger have contributed to the team at least once this season, it’s been the youth who have been stepping up and contributing the most. Sophomore Noah Kauppila has improved in each race he’s participated in this season, starting off as the #6 runner at HYP and recently finishing as the #2 runner at Wisco. Rookies Steven Sum and Jeremy Spiezo have consistently been in the team’s top 5 throughout the season. Sum received Rookie of the Week honors earlier this season for being the #1 runner at the Princeton Inter-Regional meet by finishing 6th overall in the competitive field. Spiezo has been a dependable #4/#5 runner in his first collegiate season. This Friday will be their first experience of running in the Bronx – hopefully, they can easily adapt to the hilly technical course because defending the team title will depend on it.
photo from Princeton Track & Field/Cross Country Instagram