ITHACA, N.Y. -- On Sunday, the Columbia women's track & field team shined the brightest at Barton Hall once again to win the first Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track & Field Championship in school history. The Lions totaled 124 team points to run away with the championship title behind a slew of standout performances. The Columbia men were impressive as well, finishing in third place with 70 points despite not competing in many of the field and sprint events.
"I'm just thrilled. Everyone on the team competed so hard," Columbia Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Willy Wood said. "It sounds cliche, but it really was an overall team effort. There are numerous individuals who contributed. For the women to win, it's just absolutely amazing for us. Quite honestly, for the men, given the number of events we participate in, to be third is basically like winning. We couldn't have asked for anything more from one kid on the entire team. We couldn't have asked more from the program in any other way. It was a great overall effort. I've got great coaches who are helping me out and an amazing group of kids who are committed to what we're trying to accomplish - and they just did it."
On the men's side, Kyle Merber took the title in the 1 mile and then ran anchor behind Adam Behnke, Byron Jones and Daniel Everett to help the men's distance medley relay win the championship. The 4x800m relay of Brendon Fish, Harrison McFann, Liam Tansey and Connor Claflin brought home a third Ivy League title for the Lions' men.
THE COLUMBIA WOMEN
Entering Sunday with a 34-31 lead over Harvard for first place, the Lions exploded with 90 more points to win the first Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track & Field team title in school history. Columbia finished with 124 points – 21 points better than second-place Cornell. The Lions’s women had 13 entries score points on Sunday and enjoyed five first-place showings on the day.
High Jump Final
Monique Roberts – First Place, 10 Points
Tara Richmond – Third Place, 6 Points
Roberts pulled off an incredible three-peat in the high jump, winning the Ivy League crown this year with a leap of 1.76m, her best jump of the year. Richmond also enjoyed her best performance of the season, clearing 1.73m to take third place and score six points.
Triple Jump Final
Nadia Eke – First Place, 10 Points
QueenDenise Okeke – Third Place, 6 Points
First-year Eke continued her sensational first-year campaign by taking first place with a leap of 12.91m. That mark is the best leap in the Ivy League this year and is tied for the 13th-best in the nation. Okeke, the 2011 triple jump champ, had leap of 12.44m that was a season best and good for third place and six points.
60m Dash Final
Marvellous Iheukwumere – Second Place, 8 Points
Iheukwumere and Princeton’s Eileen Moran both clocked in at 7.62, but the Columbia sophomore earned the second-place nod and eight points as her time was calculated at 7.616 to Moran’s 7.620. The second-place finish served as a warm-up of sorts for Iheukwumere, who would capture her first Ivy League crown in the very next event.
60m Hurdles Final
Kyra Caldwell – Fourth Place, 4 Points
Caldwell contributed four key points early in the day, taking fourth place in the 60m hurdles with an 8.79 finish.
200m Dash Final
Marvellous Iheukwumere – First Place, 10 Points
Iheukwumere sped to the finish line in 24.61 to edge Princeton’s Eileen Moran in Section 2 and capture her first Ivy League title.
400m Dash Final
Miata Morlu – First Place, 10 Points
After finishing second in this event in 2011, Morlu earned her first individual Ivy League title in Sunday’s 400m final, motoring across the finish line in a time of 55.99.
1 Mile Run Final
Waverly Neer – Third Place, 6 Points
In the first of two individual finals for Neer on Sunday, she took third with a time of 4:48.14 to score six points for the team. Neer would get her first Ivy League individual title later in the day.
3,000m Run Final
Waverly Neer – First Place, 10 Points
Emily Lanois – Fourth Place, 4 Points
In Section 2, Neer was neck-and-neck with Dartmouth senior Alexi Pappas for the majority of the race before a kick about two –thirds of the way through gave Neer the advantage. Neer, who auto-qualified for the NCAAs earlier this month in this event, finished in 9:21.82 to earn her first Ivy League title. Lanois showed incredible heart to score points for the Lions, maneuvering from the back of the pack about halfway through the race to pour it on late. Lanois finished in 9:34.99 after her incredible surge to fourth.
4x400m Relay Final
Kyra Caldwell, Yamira Bell, Uju Ofoche, Miata Morlu – Fourth Place, 4 Points
In the last women’s event of the day, Morlu and Brown anchor Lauren Waterbury had a collision at the finish line as the Columbia sophomore gave it everything she had at the end to give the Lions a chance at third. The quartet took second in Section 1 and fourth overall with a time of 3:46.88.
4x800m Relay Final
Erin Gillingham, Madeline Rathbun, Mallory Anderson, Clare Buck – Fifth Place, 2 Points
As the second-to-last event of the day, it was crucial for this quartet to score points to maintain Columbia’s cushion over Cornell. The group came through and nearly took third after clocking in at 8:57.78.
THE COLUMBIA MEN
The Lions' men scored 69 points on Sunday to finish with 70 points and take third place. The third-place finish is Columbia's best since 2009, when the Lions scored 82 points.
500m Run Finals
William Kovalczyk – Fourth Place, 4 Points
Connor Claflin – Sixth Place, 1 Point
Two of the Lions’ younger stars contributed to the Columbia men’s impressive third-place finish in this race. Running in the faster Section 2, Kovalczyk took fourth with a time of 1:04.43 for four points. Claflin was second in Section 1 and sixth overall with a time of 1:05.41. With the top three finishers in the event upperclassmen, Kovalczyk and Claflin look to be major factors moving forward.
800m Run Finals
Harrison McFann – Third Place, 6 Points
Brendon Fish – Fifth Place, 2 Point
McFann, Princeton's Michael Willams and Fish were in the second pack back of the leaders. McFann clocked in at 1:51.28 to take third and Fish was neck-and-neck with Williams as both finished in 1:51.73.
1,000m Run Finals
Byron Jones – Second Place, 8 Points
Liam Tansey – Fourth Place, 4 Points
Daniel Everett – Fifth Place, 2 Points
The 1,000m finals was a big-time statement event for the Lions as they amassed 14 points. Jones ran a great race, finishing in 2:26.11, just three-hundredths of a second back of Princeton senior Trevor Van Ackeren. Tansey (2:27.03) and Everett (2:27.56) solidified their positions in the race to score some key points.
1 Mile Run Finals
Kyle Merber – First Place, 10 Points
Adam Behnke – Sixth Place, 1 Point
Merber’s remarkable comeback year continued with another milestone for the Columbia standout. Merber won his first Ivy League indoor mile title, clocking in at 4:21.11 to score 10 big points for his team and add another notch on his impressive Lions career resume. Behnke finished in 4:23.46 to earn a point for the Lions. Merber and Behnke would team up later to earn another Ivy League title.
5,000, Run Finals
Mike Murphy – Third Place, 6 Points
Paul Snyder – Sixth Points, 1 Point
Murphy ran a great race to take third and earn six points with a time of 14:28.29. He found himself in a battle Princeton’s Chris Bendtsen at the end and finished just 19-hunderedths of a second out of second. Snyder maintained his position at the end to finish in 14:38.82 and pick up a key point.
4x400m Relay Final
Cody Love, William Kovalczyk, Samuel Miner, Thomas Cahuzac - Fourth Place, 4 Points
The 4x400m quartet ran a good race, but Brown and Cornell started to pull away from the pack midway through. The Lions clocked in at 3:20.04 and had a close finish at the end with Princeton, missing out of third place by about half a second.
4x800 Relay Final
Brendon Fish, Harrison McFann, Liam Tansey, Connor Claflin – First Place , 10 Points
The 4x800m team gave the Columbia men its third win of the day thanks to solid runs by all four legs. Fish had a tremendous start and McFann held ground well in the second leg. Tansey gave the Lions some more space at the third leg and Claflin brought it home in 7:34.99 to hold off Cornell for the win.
Distance Medley Relay Final
Adam Behnke, Byron Jones, Daniel Everett, Kyle Merber – First Place, 10 Points
The DMR quartet ran a thrilling race to give the Columbia men their second win of the day. Behnke gave the Lions a great start and Jones and Everett kept it close. Merber extended the lead as anchor as the Lions pulled away with a 2-second win in 9:52.01.
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
Nnenna 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.
3,000m Run Final
Joseph 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.