Princeton Men, Harvard Women Claim Indoor Heps


On the back of sophomore sprinter Gabby Thomas’ record-setting weekend at the Armory in New York, the Harvard Crimson claimed its fifth straight Indoor Heps’ crown on Sunday. With 129 points, Harvard held off a resurgent Penn, whose 109 1/3 points was the program’s highest total since 1987. Thomas — who was named the track MVP after the meet — won both the 60- and 200-meter dashes in record times. She won the 60 in 7.31 after posting an all-time league record 7.29 in the prelims. In the finals of the 200 she posted an amazing 22.88, which puts her among the nation’s top sprinters. She also ran the fastest split (53.7) of any runner in the 4×400-meter relay, which Harvard won.

For the men, 1-2 finishes in both the 60-meter dash and the shot put on Sunday made it clear that Princeton was on the way to its 20th Indoor Heps title. In the end the Tigers claimed their third straight crown, this time with a 46-point margin over runner-up Cornell. It is the 15th straight time that those two teams have finished first and second with the Orange & Black winning eight.

It was junior Carrington Akosa and sophomore Charles Volker taking 1-2 in the 60-meter dash (both in 6.89) while junior Mitchel Charles and senior Christopher Cook claimed the top two places in the shot. Charles’ winning throw was 17.94 meters (58-10 1/4). Volker came back to take a strange second in the 200 as well. He won the first section of the 200 final and hoped it would be enough to give him the victory. But two runners in the second section, Carrington included, scratched and then Cornell sophomore Jonathan Avery false-started, leaving Penn soph Calvary Rogers as the lone entrant standing. With much urging from the crowd, Rogers ran the lap in a meet-record 21.39 by himself, a rarely-seen circumstance.

Penn also got wins from seniors Chris Hatler and Nick Tuck. Hatler was one of three sub-4 milers who lined up for the mile final and they took the top three spots — Hatler in 4:10.93 followed by Columbia senior Rob Napolitano and Cornell senior James Gowans.  Tuck won the 5,000m in 14:16.44.

The men’s track MVP was Yale senior James Randon, who won the 3,000-meter run in 8:04.87 and anchored the winning distance medley relay. Also helping the Bulldog cause was senior Marc-Andre Alexandre, who won the 400-meter dash in 47.79 despite not running the event indoors in nearly two years. In all, Yale finished tied for third with 78 points, the team’s highest point total since 1991.

If Cornell senior Rudy Winkler, who broke Conor McCullough’s meet record in the weight throw with a toss of 75-7 1/2, didn’t claim the meet’s field MVP (which he did), than it would have gone to senior teammate Austin Jameron. Jamerson broke a strong conference heptathlon record set by Mustafa Abdur-Rahim in 2004. Jamerson — who finished with 5,756 points — had very strong wins in the hurdles (8.15), high jump (6-9 3/4) and long jump (24-0 1/4).

Dartmouth took third without a single champion on the weekend. In fact, 66 of the Big Green’s 82 came from athletes finishing third through sixth in their events while Harvard, which was sixth with 58 points, had three winners on Saturday. Sophomore Myles Marshall ran from the front to win the 800 in 1:48.98 while teammates claimed both horizontal jumps — freshman Anthony DeNitto in the long jump (24-2 1/4) and senior Efe Uwaifo in the triple (51-11). It was Uwaifo’s third title in the event.

While Harvard’s Gabby Thomas was the showstopper at Heps, Dartmouth freshman Cha’Mia Rothwell stood strong in her first conference championship. She was named the field MVP for winning the long jump with a mark of 20-3, becoming just the seventh Ivy woman to soar 20 feet in the indoor long jump. But more notably she set an all-time league record in the 60-meter hurdles (8.30), breaking the conference mark set by Harvard Olympian Brenda Taylor. Rothwell also scored in the 60-meter dash.

Here’s a crazy note — all six scorers in the 60-meter hurdles were freshmen. And the race was fast. In addition to Rothwell’s league record (8.30), the sixth-place time (8.77) matched the fastest sixth-place ever.

And if there were a rookie of the meet award (there is not), Rothwell might not have been a unanimous pick as Harvard’s Judy Pendergast won the 5k in a fast 16:07.26, she also took a close second in the 3k on Saturday. Her Crimson teammate, senior Nikki Okwelogu, dominated the shot put (54-2 1/2) to claim her fourth straight crown.  Okwelogu joins Princeton’s Deborah St. Phard as the only women in Heps history to ever four-peat in this event.

It wasn’t just impressive that Penn scored its most points in 30 years, it was who did it. Seven different Quaker freshmen scored individually, led by Nia Akins who finished second in the 500-meter dash (1:12.75). Rookies Cecil Ene (400) and Elena Brown-Soler (pentathlon) took thirds. Perhaps Penn’s best performances came from sophomores Imani Solan (second, 200m, 23.80) and Rachel Wilson (second, weight throw, 61-11).

The host school Columbia — which was third overall behind Harvard and Penn — had several strong performances. Junior Akua Obeng-Akrofi won the 400-meter dash in 54.10, a time bettered in history by only Harvard’s Meredith Rainey and Columbia’s Sharay Hale. Senior Anna Williams held off a young Crimson leaper in the triple, winning with a mark of 12.99 meters (42-7 1/2). Junior Sarah Hardie edged senior teammate Devon Towell in the 1,000 to win for the third straight year and senior Henna Rustami anchored the victorious DMR to go with her 3k win on Saturday.

Final Indoor Heps Men Scores — 1) Princeton, 147; 2) Cornell, 101; 3) Dartmouth, 82; 4) Yale, 78; 5) Penn, 65; 6) Harvard, 58; 7) Columbia, 56; 8) Brown, 32.

Final Indoor Heps Women’s Scores — 1) Harvard, 129; 2) Penn, 109 1/3; 3) Columbia, 97 1/3; 4) Cornell & Princeton, 81; 6) Dartmouth, 62; 7) Brown, 34 1/3; 8) Yale, 26.

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