EDITOR’S NOTE: Letsrun.com has set up a national and conference prediction poll in honor for this weekend’s conference championship weekend. One of the power conferences they have included is ours! Feel free to go to this link to sign up and share your predictions on who will win the HepsXC team titles. I’ve entered mine. We’ll share the results later this week.
The Columbia Lions are ready to roll. After finishing a disappointing 6th last year at Heps, and then missing out on a trip to NCAAs after finishing 4th at the Northeast Regional, they are back with a vengeance. The Lions now find themselves as legitimate contenders for the team title this Friday. Aside from a loss to Cornell in their seasonal debut at the Brother Jasper Invitational in early September, the Columbia Men are undefeated against all other Ivy teams (note: they are 1-1 against Princeton as Princeton finished ahead of them at the Princeton Inter-Regional Meet while Columbia beat them at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational two weeks later). They will look to continue that streak as they head into the championship portion of the season.
After shaking the rust off in their opener at Brother Jasper, the Lions wasted no time in establishing themselves as a regional and national powerhouse. At the Princeton Inter-Regional meet they claimed an impressive 3rd place, taking down two nationally ranked teams in the process – No. 24 Providence and No. 29 North Carolina – a feat which earned them a No. 28 ranking in the national polls. Two weeks later at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, they bested another 6 nationally ranked teams, including No. 4 Stanford, No. 11 Wisconsin, and Heps rivals No. 27 Princeton. Their strong performance vaulted them to their current national rank of 17th and gave them the confidence and momentum they’ll need to try for the title this Friday.
The Lions solid Top 7 has played a key role in their success so far this season. A pair of seniors have taken turns as the leading man in their two major contests: top Heps returner Tait Rutherford nabbed 3rd at the Princeton Inter-Regional meet while Aubrey Myjer took 19th at the highly competitive Wisconsin adidas Invitational. Junior Jack Boyle has also had several strong performances so far this season, most notably 58th at Wisconsin, and seems poised to improve his 19th place finish at last year’s HepsXC. Classmate Max Norris, who was not in the Lions Top 7 a year ago, has been having a breakout season and will look to contribute to the their title campaign as a scoring member of the squad. Rounding out the ranks are a trio of promising underclassman, sophomore Ryan Thomas and freshmen Sam Ritz and Brian Zabilski.
– Rachel Sorna
photo by Matt Trappe for Strava