ITHACA, N.Y. – Junior Uju Ofoche won the long jump for the second-straight season and the Columbia women roared to first place after the first day of the 2012 Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track & Field Championships at Cornell’s Barton Hall. The Lions’ men were also impressive as 13 of 15 runners in preliminaries advanced to their respective finals on Sunday.

“Today was without a doubt the best combined day one for us in school history,” Columbia Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Willy Wood said.



Heading into Sunday, Columbia women sit in first place with 34 team points, just ahead of Harvard (31) and Dartmouth (29). Six Lions in four finals scored points on Saturday. The Lions, runners-up in 2010 and 2011, look to extend their lead and hold on for a shot at their first indoor team title in Columbia history. Columbia will be represented in all 12 Sunday finals events.

Long Jump Final
Uju Ofoche – First Place, 10 Points
Nadia Eke – Fifth Place, 2 Points

Ofoche’s leap of 5.95m allowed her to defend her 2011 title in the long jump. Ofoche is the first Columbia jumper to win back-to-back Ivy League titles in the long jump. Eke set a new personal record with a jump of 5.67m to take fifth place

Weight Throw Final
Nenna Okwara – Third Place, 6 Points

Okwara saved her strongest throw of the season for Heps as she set a new season best with 16.46m to take third place and score six crucial points for the Lions.

Pole Vault Final
Sarah Engle – Second Place, 8 Points

Engle also enjoyed her best performance of the season in the pole vault en route to earning second place. On her fourth attempt, the senior matched the mark she reached at the 2011 Ivy League Indoor Championships.

5,000m Run Final
Emily Lanois – Third Place, 6 Points.
Caroline McDonough – Fifth Place, 2 Points

Columbia benefitted from having an outstanding tandem of Lanois and McDonough in this event to combine for eight team points. Lanois hung with the top group third with a time of 16:38.21, finishing just two tenths of a second back of first place. McDonough scored two points for the Lions, clocking in at 16:45.55.

60m Dash Prelims
Advancing to Finals: Marvellous Iheukwumere

Ihuekwumere won the third heat with a time of 7.56, the second best time on Saturday and a tie for the school record she set earlier this season. After taking third place last year, Iheukwumere will be geared up for Sunday’s final.

60m Hurdles Prelims
Advancing to Finals: Kyra Caldwell

Caldwell took second in Heat 2, crossing the finish line in 8.68 for the third-fastest time. At the 2011 Heps, she had the third-best time in the prelims as well before she motored to the Ivy League crown in the finals with a school record 8.52.

200m Dash Prelims
Advancing to Finals: Marvellous Iheukwumere

Iheukwumere smoked the competition in her heat, crossing the line with the day’s best time of 24.63. The 24.52 she ran on Feb. 10 is the best time in the Ivy League this year, so Iheukwumere has plenty left in the tank for Sunday’s final.

400m Dash Prelims
Advancing to Finals: Miata Morlu, Yamira Bell

Morlu had the fastest prelim time of 56.66 to win Heat 4. That’s a noticeable improvement over her previous season best of 57.16. Morlu took second in the event last year with a 55.15. Bell took second in the first heat, clocking a 57.20 for the sixth-best time.

800m Run Prelims
Advancing to Finals: Madeline Rathbun

Rathbun’s heat was the toughest as it featured two of the top four times. She took fourth in the head and had the seventh-best time of 2:10.37 to earn a spot in the final. The first-year shaved almost two seconds off her previous career best.

1 Mile Run Prelims
Advancing to Finals: Waverly Neer

Neer ran the fastest mile on Saturday, winning the third heat in a time of 4:50.64. Neer’s time was just under two seconds better than Dartmouth’s Abby D’Agostino. D’Agostino edged Neer for the Ivy League cross country title this past fall and they are top two entries in Sundays’ 1 mile and 3,000m finals.

Sunday will also feature six finals that had no preliminaries on Saturday. Here are the Lions’ entries in those events:
High Jump: Monique Roberts, Tara Richmond
Triple Jump: Nadia Eke, QueenDenise Okeke
Shot Put: Nnenna Okwara
3,000m Run: Waverly Neer, Caroline Williams, Aryn Foland, Caroline McDonough, Emily Lanois
4x400m Relay: Columbia A Team
4x800m Relay: Columbia A Team



The Columbia men dominated in the running events as 13 of 15 entries advanced to their respective finals on Sunday. The Lions totaled just one point on Saturday, but look for them to surge up the standing tomorrow with a host of individual standouts and the best three relay teams in the league.

3,000m Run Final
Joe Kotran – Sixth Place, 1 Point

Kotran’s Section 2 ran at a much faster pace than Section 1 as evident in the fact that all six placewinners came in Section 2. Kotran clocked in at 8:19.61 to score a point for the Lions.

400m Dash Prelims
Advancing to Finals: Kevin Boyd, Cody Love

Boyd took second in the first heat and posted the fourth-fastest time of the day with a 49.56. He shaved about half a second off his previous career best. Love took third in the third heat with Saturday’s seventh-best time of 50.37.

500m Dash Prelims
Advancing to Finals: Thomas Cahuzac, Connor Claflin, Billy Kovalczyk

First-year standouts Cahuzac and Claflin and sophomore Billy Kovalczyk will get their chance to shine on Sunday as they earned the final’s fourth, fifth and seventh spots, respectively. Cahuzac won Heat 1 and set a new career best with a time of 1:05.10 and Kovalczyk was on his heels in second at 1:05.41. Kovalczyk earned a spot in the finals in 2011. Claflin crossed second in Heat 2 with a time of 1:04.40.

800m Run Prelims
Advancing to Finals: Harry McFann, Brendon Fish

McFann won Heat 3 and enjoyed the second-fastest time of the day wit 1:53.64. Fish took second in Heat 1 with a time of 1:53.32, the fourth best in prelims. Both McFann and Fish clocked in three seconds faster on Feb. 10 at the Lafayette/Rider Winter Games.

1,000m Run Prelims
Advancing to Finals: Byron Jones, Daniel Everett, Liam Tansey

Everett’s 2:27.38 was the second-fastest time in prelims as he finished just one hundredth of a second back of Harvard’s Darcy Wilson in Heat 2. Jones (2:28.32) and Tansey (2:28.81) finished one-two in Heat 1. Tansey has the best time of the Columbia trio this season with a 2:25.70 at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.

1 Mile Prelims
Advancing to Finals: Adam Behnke, Kyle Merber, Daniel Nestor

Behnke had the best time of the day, winning Heat 2 with a time of 4:15.30. Merber had the third-best time with a 4:15.49 and Nestor nabbed the last qualifyin spot with a time of 4:18.37. Merber’s best time this year is the 4:02.83 he ran in the Millrose Games’ Wanamaker Mile. Back in 2010, Merber set the school record with a 3:58.52. Behnke’s best time this year is 4:03.43.

Sunday will also feature Columbia men in four events which did not have prelims on Saturday. Here are the Lions’ entries in those events:
5,000m Run: Jake Sienko, Paul Snyder, Leighton Spencer, Mike Murphy, Ben Eversole
4x400m Relay: Columbia A Team
4x800m Relay: Columbia A Team
Distance Medley: Columbia A Team