iHeps ’16: Women’s Sprints & Hurdles

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There was a significant graduation of sprinting/hurdling athletes in June 2015, including Indoor Heps Track MVP Harvard’s Danielle Barbian.  Despite this changing of the guard, Harvard still looks to compile a significant number of points in these events, potentially improving on last year’s result. In fact, the Crimson have the top performers in four out of the five sprint/hurdle events. Other teams such as Dartmouth, Penn, and Cornell should also have improvement from last year, enhancing their potential for a Heptagonal Championship in one of these events.

Freshman Gabrielle Thomas (Harvard) has replaced Barbian’s league record in the 60m (7.38), followed by teammate Ngozi Musa (7.42 adjusted from altitude, #3 all time). They should be the favorites and repeat Harvard’s last year 1-2 finish. Veterans Kaitlin Whitehorn (Dartmouth) and Taylor McCorkle (Penn) were scorers last year and have improved since then. Add in newcomer Imani Solan (Penn) with the fifth best conference time and veteran Sydney Cureton (Yale), this race should have a similar flavor as last year.

Thomas also seems to be a guarantee to dominate the 200m with a conference record of 23.37, currently the fourteenth best time in the country. The Penn duo of Solan and McCorkle should provide a scoring boost for Penn with the #2 and #6 times in the conference respectively. Last year scorers Jennifer Meech (Dartmouth) and Udeme Akpaete (Cornell) have run well this year and could follow Thomas if the Penn sprinters falter.

Harvard’s Autumne Franklin has run well in the 200m, but it seems unlikely she will run this event as she could opt for the 400m where she is the league leader with 53.89.  It would be an exciting battle to watch if it is Franklin vs Meech (53.97) as these two are the only ones that are below 54 seconds this year. Defending 400m champion Akpaete has not run as well this year, but can be the one to surprise the two frontrunners if she returns to her 2015 form. Her teammate Taysia Radoslav is ranked sixth in the conference.  Along with Jaycee Parker (Columbia) and Jackie Modesett (Harvard), they all should figure into the scoring race. Cecilia Barowski is highly ranked in the 400m (third) and 500m (first), but like last year, should be entering in the 800m. Jade Miller (Harvard) is ranked fourth in the 400m event, but may opt for the 500m where she is ranked second (1:12.95). Radoslav could be a contender for the 500m, if she choose so, as she is ranked third. Last year’s runner up and top returner, Candace Taylor (Penn) could move up to the champion’s circle with a return to form. Other potential scorers include Jeanine Noordam (Brown), Aliyah Gallup (Dartmouth) and Gwenyth Winship (Brown).

Harvard’s last top performer is in the 60m hurdles where three-time defending champion Franklin has run 8.42 this season and holds the meet record of 8.41. Franklin is looking to become the second woman ever to win four straight 60m hurdle titles.  Columbia’s Iris Chijioke and Modesett, last year’s second and third place finishers, have followed form and are second (8.57) and third (8.65) in the league going into Indoor Heps. It seems likely an identical finish to last year. Other potential scorers include Miller (Harvard), Allison Harris and Taylor Morgan (both of Princeton, if they decides to compete outside of their specialties, the pole vault and pentathlon), Abby Feeney (Dartmouth) and Meghan Barnes (Penn).

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photo by Brian Panoff

– L. Kelsey Armstrong

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