iHeps ’16 – Women’s Mid-Distance

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Princeton’s Cecilia Barowski is the clear favorite to claim at least Indoor Heps title this year as she has top 3 times in distances spanning from the 400m to the 1,000m, but the 800m is her bread and butter.  She swept the 800m titles last year at both Indoor and Outdoor Heps.  She is up on the rest of the conference by almost 3 seconds going into this weekend with her #1 seed time of 2:04.66 (which is one of the best times in the NCAA currently).  It will likely be a race for 2nd place between Penn’s Carey Celata (#2, 2:07.52) and Yale’s Shannon McDonnell (#3, 2:08.19).  McDonnell finished fourth in this event last year while Celata scored in the outdoor equivalent last May.

The women’s 1,000m debuted at Indoor Heps last year with rookie Sarah Hardie of Columbia taking the title.  We have a feeling it is going to be a faster final based on this year’s seedings (but then again, Barton Hall’s flat track could be a normalizer).  Brown’s Clare Peabody and Dartmouth’s Bridget O’Neill have both made huge strides this year in this event.  Peabody has dropped her 1km best to 2:47.21 – a 3 second personal best and #7 all-time- while O’Neill has improved her time by 10 seconds to 2:47.71 – #9 all-time.  Cornell’s Kristen Neidrach could have the advantage as she would be most familiar with how to handle the flat turns of Barton Hall, so she is the dark horse in this race.

The women’s mile final could be exciting.  The Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet had a preview of this potential final as Yale’s Frances Schmeide and Princeton’s Elizabeth Bird fought to the line and ran sub-4:40 to break into the conference record books.  Schmeide has since lowered her mile time down to 4:37.77 to have the #1 seed, while Bird – who would be the #2 seed with 4:39.32 – hasn’t raced the mile since (maybe the HepsXC champ will focus more on the longer events this weekend?)  Penn’s Ashley Montgomery has had quite a breakthrough year in both cross country and indoor track, so it could continue this weekend.  Don’t count out Columbia’s Olivia Sadler, rookie Libby Kokes, or Hardie in any of these mid-distance events.  Columbia has been a mid-distance talent machine for both genders, and these ladies continue that trend for the Lions.

The defending mile champion, Dana Giordano of Dartmouth, has yet to compete in the mile this season but we are guessing she may focus more on the longer distances this time around.  She does have some teammates who can fill in the Big Green void in the mid-distance scoring – Bridget Flynn (#5 in the 800m), Abby Livingston (#7 in the 800m), O’Neill (#2 in the 1,000m), and Helen Schlachtenhaufen (#8 in the mile).  Every point will help for the team race.  Harvard will need some support from their mid-distance corps – Paige Kouba (#4, 800m; #7 1,000m; #5 mile) and Kieran Gallagher (#5 800m; #4 1,000m) – if they want to retain their team crown for a third straight year as the team cannot win based on sprints and hurdles alone.

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images by Doug Austin

– Mary Boggs

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