NEW YORK - The Columbia Track & Field teams will send 19 athletes to next week's NCAA East Prelims, hosted by the University of Kentucky, May 25-27.
The Lion men had nine qualifiers, while the women will send 10 athletes to compete in 12 events in Lexington, with the top results advancing to the NCAA Track & Field Championships, hosted by Oregon from June 7-10.
Columbia's 19 qualifiers is the most for the program since the 2013 season, when the Lions sent 21 athletes to the East Prelims for the second consecutive year.
"We are very excited to have 19 student athletes competing at the NCAA Preliminary First Round in Lexington," said the Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Daniel Ireland. "It is the second largest group that we have ever sent, and we are anxious to see what they accomplish. Hopefully we can have a good number of individuals qualify for the final round in Eugene."
Daniel Igbokwe | Triple Jump | 29th | 15.63m (51'3.5")
The school record holder qualifies in the triple jump during his rookie season as a Lion. Igbokwe put forth a 15.63m effort during the IC4A/ECAC Championships on his third attempt, breaking Cie-Jai Brown's school record of 15.62m from 1999.
Josiah Langstaff | 800m | 41st | 1:49.70
Langstaff enters the 800m field as one of the top half-milers in the Ivy League. In just his second season, Langstaff was the runner-up in the Indoor Heps 800m, and third at Ourdoor Heps. His 1:49.70 season best came during the West Point Twilight meet, when he finished in fifth.
Robert Napolitano | 1,500m | 15th | 3:43.50
At the Swarthmore Final Qualifier, which was not included in the final TFRRS entries, Napolitano ran the sixth-best 1,500m time in the NCAA, when he crossed the line in 3:39.75. That effort for the senior was the second-best time in school history, behind Kyle Merber's American-born collegian record of 3:35.49. Napolitano enters the East Prelims as an eight-time Ivy League Champion, winning titles in the 1,500m and anchoring Columbia to a 4x800m relay victory at the 2017 Outdoor Heps.
Robert O'Brien | Pole Vault | 31st | 5.11m (16'9.25")
After narrowly missing the East Prelims field in his first season, O'Brien qualified with a 5.11m season best during Outdoor Heps. In his sophomore campaign, O'Brien set school record marks in both the indoor and outdoor pole vault.
Keenan Piper | 3,000m Steeplechase | 37th | 9:00.56
Piper came on strong in his final season at Columbia, taking fourth at Outdoor Heps in the 3,000m Steeplechase, then improving on his time a week later at the IC4A/ECAC Championships. The 9:00.56 from Piper was the eighth fastest time in school history.
Sam Ritz | 1,500m | 37th | 3:45.63
Twice this season, Ritz clocked a 3:45.63 in the 1,500m run, first at the Florida Relays on March 30, then most recently at the West Point Twilight meet. The sophomore qualifies for the East Prelims for the first time in his career, and enters as a two-time conference champion in the 4x800m relay.
Alek Sauer | 800m | 29th | 1:48.95
Another one of the strong sophomore middle-distance runners, Sauer posted the fastest 800m run time by a Lion this season at 1:48.95 during the Florida Relays. The three-time Ivy League champion has been consistent in his two years at Columbia, boasting seven open 800m times under 1:50.
Ryan Thomas | 5,000m | 20th | 14:00.56
Thomas posted his best 5,000m time of the season when he won his heat at the Stanford Invitational in 14:00.56, which was the third best time in school history. The Charlottesville, Virginia, native had a breakout junior season, taking third in the DMR at Indoor Heps and fourth in the 3,000m, before kicking past the field to take the tape in the 5,000m run at Outdoor Heps.
Brian Zabilski | 5,000m | 44th | 14:10.90
Zabilski was victorious during the IC4A/ECAC Championships in the 5,000m run, clocking a career best 14:10.90 to edge Yale's Adam Houston (14:11.12). The sophomore was second at Outdoor Heps in the 5,000m a season ago, and finished fifth this season.
Nell Crosby | 3,000m Steeplechase | 23rd | 10:18.41
After competing in lacrosse during her first two years at Columbia, Crosby made the switch to track & field and found much success, posting strong enough times to qualify in a pair of events. The Colorado Springs native was an All-Ivy League finisher in the 3,000m steeplechase, and posted a season best time of 10:18.41 at the Virginia Challenge.
Sarah Hardie | 800m | 24th | 2:06.68
Hardie kicked home strong to win her sixth Ivy League title at Outdoor Heps, this time in the 800m at 2:07.97. Her season best of 2:06.68 at the Virginia Challenge helped the junior improve on her career best. This is the second consecutive year Hardie qualifies for the 800m run at the East Prelims.
Maryam Hassan | Triple Jump | 48th | 12.54m (41'1.75")
Hassan becomes the first women's triple jumper to qualify for the East Prelims during her first-year since Nadia Eke did so in 2012. The Cresskill, New Jersey, native improved all season long, going 12.54m for third place at Outdoor Heps and the fifth best mark in school history.
Abby McLaughlin | 10,000m | 31st | 34:31.21
One of a two Columbia qualifiers in the 10,000m run, McLaughlin ran 34:31.21 at the Raleigh Relays on March 24 for a season best. The rookie went on to take ninth during her first Outdoor Heps at that distance, and was seventh in the 5,000m run during Indoor Heps.
Erin Melly | 3,000m Steeplechase | 41st | 10:25.59
Melly returns to the East Prelims for the second straight season, having also qualified in the 3,000m Steeplechase a season ago. The junior clocked a season best 10:25.59 during the IC4A/ECAC Championships for third, and claimed sixth during Outdoor Heps in that event.
Akua Obeng-Akrofi | 400m | 18th | 52.93
200m | 25th | 23.30
Obeng-Akrofi heads back to the East Prelims, having qualified a season ago in the 400m. The junior's 52.93 effort in the 400m from the Virginia Challenge when she took second place ranks her second in Columbia history. Obeng-Akrofi was the Ivy League Champion in both the indoor and outdoor 400m, and also qualifies in the 200m after taking second during Outdoor Heps in a wind-aided 23.30.
Henna Rustami | 5,000m | 9th | 15:59.79
Rustami posted three Ivy League titles during her final season, but none was by a bigger margin than her 5,000m finish at Outdoor Heps, when she bested the field by over 12 seconds in 16:24.51. This is the second straight season Rustami qualifies in the 5,000m run, as she enters this year with an improved career best of 15:59.79.
Natalie Tanner | 10,000m | 12th | 33:48.20
16th | 5,000m | 16:04.65
Tanner heads to Lexington with times good enough to qualify in both the 5,000m and 10,000m runs. The senior ran the 10K twice this year, winning both races with a season-best 33:48.20 from the Virginia Challenge. Tanner was running by herself for most of the 10K during Outdoor Heps, crossing the line in 34:13.63, which was 35 seconds better than the second place finisher. Her 5,000m season best of 16:04.65 was the 16th best time among the East Prelim entries.
Brittney Wade | 800m | 17th | 2:05.30
A school record holder in both the indoor and outdoor 800m, Wade enters the East Prelims with a 2:05.30 on her resume from the Virginia Challenge. The senior was third at Outdoor Heps in 2:08.31, and split a 2:07.69 during the school record DMR at the Penn Relays.
Anna Williams | Triple Jump | 39th | 12.71m (41'8.5")
A two-time conference champion in the triple jump, Williams put forth a season-best 12.71m (41'8.5") effort during the Virginia Challenge. The senior was an East Prelim qualifier a season ago, and enters with a career best of 12.99m.