iHeps ’16 – Relays

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The women’s 4×400 races will be the latest edition of Harvard versus Cornell.  In both indoor and outdoor races, these women have battled each other over Heps titles and conference records.  It seems like they always bring out the best in each other whenever they go head-to-head.  Cornell swept the 4×400 titles last year at both Heps, but Harvard did not make it easy for the Big Red to win them.  This year, Harvard enters Indoor Heps with the conference record as they ran 3:35.58 (when converted from altitude) to claim it.  Cornell’s season’s best is 3:44.91, followed closely by Penn (3:46.91) and Princeton (3:47.57).  Now it will be unlikely that Harvard will be racing their record-setting quartet at Indoor Heps so Cornell could have a chance of upsetting the Crimson to retain their conference title on Barton Hall’s flat track.

The men’s 4×400 relay is a similar story but with different teams – Brown and Cornell.  Both teams have deep long sprinting talent this season, but Brown has put up the faster time going into Indoor Heps.  Brown’s best time of 3:10.95 is the fourth fastest in conference history, and that squad features three men who were on the team that won this event last year – Ryan Kelly, Zach Emrich, and Oluwatosin Oyewole.  Cornell could still threaten Brown for the title as they have six men who are in the top 6 in the events ranging from the 200m to the 500m who they could pull to form the relay.  Yale is only steps behind Cornell in the season’s rankings, so they could surprise the field and grab a position away from either Cornell or Brown.

Meanwhile, Princeton may have one of the deepest mid-distance talents in the conference so they will have to decide whether or not to chase the 4×800 title, the DMR title, or both.  At the Tiger Open, they had six DMR squads that all ran under 12 minutes, and none of them were a “loaded” squad.  Princeton could be the favorite for both, but it could be difficult.  Yale won the inaugural DMR title last year and they have an excellent miler – Frances Schmiede – to run as an anchor that could threaten any team for the win.  In addition, Yale bested Princeton at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton tri-meet by two seconds in the 4×800 to have the fastest time in the conference this season (granted, Princeton did not have Cecilia Barowski on that squad, who could also threaten any team for the win).  Cornell has run the fastest DMR time going into Indoor Heps with an 11:30.85.

For the men’s longer relays, it’s a little more uncertain on how they will go. We have limited data on how the 4×800 and DMR will turn out as the men have not contested as many longer relays as the women have.   Based on the rankings, Princeton and Penn are the favorites because they have the fastest seed times (7:34.97 and 9:38.81, respectively).  These are good bets.  Princeton has some of the fastest 800m/milers in the conference rankings with Noah Kauppila and Josh Ingalls.  Penn is the defending Indoor Heps champion in this event and if they have Thomas Awad anchor like they did last year, no lead is safe and he could guarantee them a repeat.  But are these guaranteed wins?  No because we will have to wait until near the end of the competition on who the coaches will list on their relay team cards.  Columbia has had strong mid-distance talent in recent years and Yale ran out of room to chase down Penn in last year’s DMR race.  These races are always exciting to watch and this year will not be any different.

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photo by Doug Austin

– Mary Boggs

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