Tigers Roar Back For Title 18

Photo: Patricia Melton


When heavily-taped junior Carrington Akosa — who’d scored 14 points in the 100 and 200 in 2016 — was not able to compete to his level of ability, the Princeton Tigers looked dead. Rival Cornell had taken advantage of every opportunity, including outscoring the Orange & Black, 41-10, in Akosa’s specialities.

But perhaps Akosa’s Willis Reed efforts turned the tables.

The first thing that happened was that sophomore Stefan Amokwandoh, expected to finish sixth or so in the triple jump, let loose on a wind-legal 15.71-meter (51-6 1/2) leap to move into third-place, between two Cornellians. If he could hold that position, that one leap could provide a seven-point swing. As the winds died down for the final three leaps, his jump did hold up and opened a closing door for his Tigers.

Then junior Josh Freeman pulled off the next feat of heroism. As the decathlon took too long to finish before the relays, it was clear that the 4×400-meter relay would be important. No one knew just how important. Princeton was trailing Cornell by three points heading into the 4×4 and it looked like Big Red anchor Tobe Attah was going to push the margin to five — or maybe even seven — as he rounded the final turn. But Freeman, sitting in fourth behind Yale, Harvard and Cornell, barreled down the straightaway to pass Attah (and nearly overtake Harvard). His remarkable 46.76 split turned gloom into glory as the Tigers, knowing they’d score at least some points in the multi-event, celebrated their 18th championship.

A seeming five-point deficit had turned into a one-point margin. Freshmen Justice Dixon and Harry Lord had little pressure — short of falling down in the decathlon 1,500-meter run — to clinch the team victory.

Cornell’s late fate might have been deflating, but the reality was that the Big Red had over performed in many events. Sophomore Zach Menchaca, who had a breakthrough at Outdoor Heps in 2016, did it again with a win in the 100-meter dash (10.55), a close second in the 200 (21.02) and a speedy relay win as the anchor of the 4×100 (40.32). Junior Dominic DeLuca looked like he’d closed the door on the Tigers with a second-place showing in the 5k (14:16.46) behind Columbia’s Ryan Thomas.

Some of the other great performances included Myles Marshall winning the 800-meter run with a mad dash down the home straight with just one shoe. Yale senior Marc-Andre Alexandre was voted Most Outstanding Track Performer by the coaches after winning the 400-meter dash in 46.84 and then coming back to anchoring the winning 4×400-meter relay with a 46.43 split. Penn senior Nick Tuck won the steeplechase, joining two-time Olympian Donn Cabral as the only three-time champions of the event and helping Penn to a third-place team finish. Princeton’s Joey Daniels was the only individual freshman champion, winning the 110-meter hurdles in a wind-assisted 13.88.

Harvard was fourth (by a single point), thanks in large measure to the efforts of senior Efe Uwaifo, who won both the long and triple jumps. Saturday’s long jump win came with a windy 7.85 meters (25-9 1/4) while Sunday’s triple victory came with another illegal mark of 16.18 meters (53-1). Despite Mother Nature’s relentless gusts, Uwaifo was selected as the Most Outstanding Field Athlete for his double championship.

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