iHeps17 – Women’s Long Sprints

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The 400- and 500-meter dashes seem like almost the same event to me. Sure, one is a longer distance that will favor those who have more end-of-racing strength rather than raw speed, kind of like the difference between 100- and 200-meter dashes. But it is unlikely that any athlete will attempt the 400-500 double at a Heps championships because of the schedule. So it makes it interesting to see how the final entries will work out when they are released on Friday afternoon.

Regardless of which event she is entered in, Columbia junior Akua Obeng-Akrofi (Lawrenceville, Ga.) is going to be the favorite as she has the fastest time in both events going into Heps weekend. She’s slowly transitioned to the longer sprints over these last two years while still being competitive in the shorter sprints at the conference level. However, we anticipate Obeng-Akrofi focusing on the 200m with either the 400m or 500m in order to maximize her points for team scoring. If she focused on the 200-400 double, she would have an additional 20 minute recovery time between those finals then if she did the 200-500 double. But, she has a greater performance time margin from her competitors in the 500m than the 400m.

Harvard senior Jade Miller (Temecula, Calif.) is about 0.3 seconds behind Obeng-Akrofi in the 400 season performance listing and is the only other athlete to have run under 55 seconds this year (it should be noted that Miller finished in third place in the 500m last year, but has yet to race the 500m in 2017). Meanwhile, Cornell rookie Michelle Garratt (Santa Barbara, Calif.) would be the No. 2 seed as she has a converted 500-meter time that is within a second of Obeng-Akrofi, while the top returning scorer from last year — Cornell junior Taysia Radoslav (Stoney Creek, Ontario) — is just over a second behind with a converted time as well. If you do not take conversions into account, then Princeton sophomore Elisa Steele (Kirkwood, Mo.) is the next closest competitor in the 500m (1.3 seconds off the lead). Like Obeng-Akrofi, Steele is also in a situation where she can score well in both the 400m and 500m as she has No. 4 and No. 3 times in the 400m and 500m, respectively. Steele has a chance to become the third Princeton athlete to win the 500m since its inclusion to the women’s program in 2015.

But really, you could include any athlete who has ever raced the 400m or 500m in either event come Heps. Columbia junior Sydney Petersen (Exeter, N.H.) and Penn freshman Elena Brown-Soler (Chamblee, Ga.) are also in the top 10 in both events and are in contention of scoring in both. While Brown rookie May Stern (Providence, R.I.) has yet to race a 500m in her collegiate career, she could be a podium finisher as she has the third fastest time in the conference in the 400. — Mary Boggs

400m dash

Trials: Saturday, 12:30 pm
Finals: Sunday, 11:40 am

Heps & Championship Record
52.96 — Meredith Rainey (Harvard, 1990)

2017 Top 10
54.04 — Akua Obeng-Akrofi (Columbia)
54.39 — Jade Miller (Harvard)
55.22 — May Stern (Brown)
55.45 — Elisa Steele (Princeton)
55.63 — Taysia Radoslav (Cornell)
56.39 — Cecil Ene (Penn)
56.70 — Sydney Petersen (Columbia)
56.80 — Maia Craver (Princeton)
56.86 — Heide Baron (Princeton)
57.03 — Elena Brown-Soler (Penn)

500m dash

Trials: Saturday, 12:45 pm
Finals: Sunday, Noon

Heps Record
1:11.24 — Sharay Hale (Columbia, 2010)

Championship Record
1:11.34 — Cecilia Barowski (Princeton, 2016)

2017 Top 10
1:12.89 — Akua Obeng-Akrofi (Columbia)
1:14.11 — Elisa Steele (Princeton)
1:14.58 — Claire Dougherty (Dartmouth)
1:14.65 — Mikayla Schneider (Penn)
1:14.65 — Michelle Garratt (Cornell)
1:14.78 — Sydney Petersen (Columbia)
1:14.87 — Taysia Radoslav (Cornell)
1:15.09 — Candace Taylor (Penn)
1:15.28 — Elena Brown-Soler (Penn)
1:15.63 — Aliyah Gallup (Dartmouth)

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