NEW YORK - The Columbia track & field teams head up to Ithaca, N.Y., this weekend to battle for conference supremacy in the 2012 Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track & Field Championships at Cornell's Barton Hall.
The two-day meet starts on Saturday at 11 a.m. with the men's weight throw. Saturday's final event is the women's pentathlon 800m at 6:30 p.m. Sunday's action starts at 11 a.m. with the men's heptathlon 60m hurdles and concludes with the women's 4x400m relay at 3:55 p.m. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. on Sunday. Click the link above to view the full schedule of events.
Tickets for both days can be purchased on-line at CornellBigRedTickets.com or by calling 607-254-2327, Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Package tickets to both games and family four-pack discounts are only available by phone or in person at the Bartels Hall box office. That ticket office will be open at 9:30 a.m. on both days. The doors to Barton Hall open at 10 a.m. on both days and tickets may be purchased at the gates starting then (cash only).
Columbia is coming off a string of strong showings at various meets at The Armory, including the New Balance Collegiate Invitational, the Millrose Collegiate Invitational and The Millrose Games. In addition, individual Lions student-athletes have shined at the Great Dane Classic, the Boston University Valentine Invitational and the Lafayette/Rider Winter Games Invitational.
(Distance junior Caroline McDonough is one of the Ivy League's top runners at 3,000m and 5,000m | Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars)
On the women's side, the Lions look as strong as ever with top-5 league performances in 12 events, including three Ivy League-best marks in the 60m dash, the 200m dash and the triple jump. The Columbia women took second place at the 2011 Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Sophomore Marvellous Iheukwumere has enjoyed a stellar indoor season to date. Her 7.56 time in the 60m dash at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational was the fastest in the Ivy League and set a new school record. Iheukwumere also has the conference's fastest time in the 200m of 24.52, which she set at the Lafayette/Rider Winter Games.
First-year Waverly Neer, who garnered USTFCCCA Cross Country All-American honors in the fall, ran an NCAA Division I auto-qualifying time in the 3,000m of 9.08.72 at the Boston University Valentine Invitational. That time ranks second in the Ivy League. Neer's 4:41.92 time in the Mile at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational ranks second in the conference. A key matchup to watch this season will be Neer against Dartmouth sophomore Abbey D'Agostino, who has the top times in the mile and 3,000m and edged Neer for first place at last fall's Ivy League Heptagonal Cross Country Championships.
Distance juniors Emily Lanois and Caroline McDonough should be major factors in the 3,000m and the 5,000m. At the Millrose Collegiate Invitational, Lanois posted a 3,000m time of 9:33.67 and McDonough clocked in at 9:35.56 to rank fourth and sixth in the conference, respectively. At the New Balance Collegiate Invitational, McDonough ran the second-fastest 5,000m in Columbia history and second-best time in the Ivy League, finishing in 16:26.62. Lanois' 16:33.63 in the 5,000m stands as the conference's fourth-fastest time.
Senior Kyra Caldwell ran the Ivy League's second-best 60m hurdles time of 8.64 at the Metropolitan Indoor Championships.
The Lions' 4x800m relay of Madeline Rathbun, Aryn Foland, Sophia Harrington and Trina Bills has the third-best time in the conference this year of 9:05.81 at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational.
Columbia's outstanding high jumpers, senior Monique Roberts and sophomore Tara Richmond, should stand out this weekend as well. Roberts is the defending two-time Ivy League champion in the high jump. She has already cleared her 2011 title-winning height of 1.76m this year, but she may have to go even higher to beat Harvard sophomore Mary Hirst, whose 1.77m leap last month is the best in the conference. Richmond took third place last year and her 1.70m jump last month is tied for second in the league.
The long jump and triple jump are two events the Lions look to dominate this year. Junior Uju Ofoche's 6.19m leap in the long jump at the Metropolitan Indoor Championships is the second-best in the Ivy League this year. First-year Nadia Eke is in the mix as well as her 5.72m jump at the Lafayette/Rider Winter games ranks sixth. Eke has been sensational in the triple jump as her 12.61m leap leads the Ivy League. 2011 Ivy League champion QueenDenise Okeke will look to defend her title in the triple jump. Okeke's season-best 11.90m triple jump distance ranks sixth.
In the pole vault, senior Sarah Engle's 3.70m clearance at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational is tied for fifth in the Ivy League. Junior Nnenna Okwara's 16.25m weight throw she recorded at the Millrose Collegiate Invitational is the fifth-best in the conference.
(First-years Connor Claflin, left, and Kevin Boyd are part of Columbia's Distance Medley Relay, which has the best time in the Ivy League this season | Columbia University Athletcs/Gene Boyars)
The Columbia men are represented in the top-5 in 11 events and look to shine their brightest in the distance events and the relays. The Lions enjoyed some standout individual performances at last year's Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Championships, including a win in the 4x400m relay.
Sophomore Cody Love currently ranks fifth in the 400m with a time of 49.37 that he recorded at the 2012 New Balance Collegiate Invitational. Love is one of the legs in Lions' 4x400m relay team.
The 500m should be an interesting race as Columbia has three of the top six times in the Ivy League. Sophomore Harry McFann's 1:03.76 ranks first, sophomore Billy Kovalczyck's 1:04.22 is fourth and first-year Connor Claflin's 1:04.33 stands sixth. McFann should also be a major factor in the 800m as his 1:50.59 time he set at the Lafayette/Rider Winter Games is the third-fastest in the conference. First-year Brendon Fish has the fifth-fastest 800m time of 1:50.68.
Senior standout Kyle Merber is having another strong season in the distance events. His 2:22.52 time in the 1,000m at the Great Dane Classic stands as the second-fastest in the Ivy League and the third-best in school history. Merber's 4:02.83 mile in the Millrose Games' Wanamaker Mile ranks third in the league. Merber's 3:58.52 mile at the 2010 Heps remains a meet record. Senior Adam Behnke should also be a major factor in the mile as his 4:03.43 mile time stands fourth in the league.
The Lions have the fifth, sixth and seventh best conference times in the 3,000m this season. Sophomore Nico Composto's 8:09.80 he recorded at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational is fifth. Merber (8:10.74) and junior Mike Murphy (8:11.77) are right behind him.
Murphy has the second-fastest 5,000m time in the Ivy League this season. He clocked in at 14:11.18 at the Boston University Terrier Classic.
Columbia's 4x400m relay of Kevin Boyd, Love, McFann and Fish set a new school record at the Millrose Games, clocking in at 3:15.86. That time is the third-best in the Ivy League this year.
The Lions' 4x800m relay and 4,000m Distance Medley Relay should really shine this weekend. The 4x800m squad of Fish, McFann, Claflin and Liam Tansey own the league's best mark of 7:25.47, recorded at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. That time is 16 seconds better than second-place Princeton. The 4,000m DMR team of Daniel Everett, Boyd, Claflin and Byron Jones has the conference's fastest time of 9:50.87. That time is 11 seconds better than second-place Penn.
In the weight throw, sophomore Duncan Dickerson's 18.15m distance stands as the third-best in the Ivy League.
Next weekend, the Lions will host the Columbia Last Chance Qualifier at The Armory on March 2-3.