NEW YORK – The 2017-18 Indoor Track & Field season is set to get under way Friday, when Columbia crosses over to Staten Island for the Metro Season Opener at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex.
The women’s team welcomes back five All-Ivy League performers from the 2016-17 indoor season, while a trio of men return that earned All-Ivy accolades from last year’s Indoor Heps.
Littered throughout the Columbia Top-10 performers in four individual events is Akua Obeng-Akrofi, who does hold the outdoor 200m school record, but is without a record from the indoor season. A strong season could see many indoor records fall, as the senior is third all-time in the 60m, third in the 200m, second in the 400m, and second in the 500m. Obeng-Akrofi was the 2017 Indoor Heps champion in the 400m, while she took third in the 200m.
In the short history of the 1,000m run at Ivy Heps, there has been only one female runner to win the race. Since its inception in 2015, Sarah Hardie has taken the title every year in the 1,000m, holding both the school and conference records in the event. If she were to take the tape again in the event this year, Hardie would become just the eighth Ivy League athlete to win an individual Indoor Heps event four times.
Nell Crosby also hopes to make an impact on the indoor season, after earning All-American honors during the Outdoor Season last year, and claiming first team All-Ivy League status in cross country this fall. Joining Crosby on the all-conference cross country list was Erin Melly, who has twice qualified for the NCAA East Prelims during the outdoor season, and will try to make some noise during her final indoor season. The Lions are also hoping for strong seasons from sophomores Maryam Hassan and Abby McLaughlin, who both qualified for the East Prelims last year.
With three middle distance athletes in the junior class who all hold conference titles, the Lions should once again prove their strength in that category.
Last year’s 4x800m relay team that won Indoor Heps is without departed senior Robert Napolitano, but should pick up the slack from the three returners. Alek Sauer enters the year with three Ivy titles, including a fourth-to-first finish in the final 50 meters during the 1,000m at the 2017 Indoor Heps. Josiah Langstaff is twice an All-Ivy performer, and ran in the 800m at the East Prelims last year. Sam Ritz is twice an Ivy Champion in the 4x800m relay, and visited the East Prelims last spring in the 1,500m.
The distance events should also start to heat up at the start of the 2018 calendar year, as Columbia welcomes four All-Ivy cross country performers to the track. Ryan Thomas most recently took the tape at the Ivy League Cross Country Heps, while he was the Outdoor Heps Champion in the 5,000m last year, and was fourth in the 3,000m at Indoor Heps. Junior Brian Zabilski joined Thomas on the first team All-Ivy cross country list, and has qualified for the East Prelims in the 5,000m run. Kenny Vasbinder and Lucky Schreiner rounded out the All-Ivy cross country performers, and give the Lions plenty of distance depth.