NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Columbia men and women combined for seven titles at the Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonal Championships, hosted by Yale.
Columbia Women - 4th place, 97 points
The Lions came through with a victory on the first day of Heps, when Natalie Tanner dominated the field in the 10,000m run. The senior clocked a 34:13.63 to best the next closest competitor by 36 seconds en route to the win.
Day two gave the women six additional All-Ivy League performances, including a pair from Akua Obeng-Akrofi.
After leading the prelims in the 400m on the first day, Obeng-Akrofi produced in the finals, clocking a 53.38 to take the tape. The junior beat the runner-up by over a second, while Iman Sule clocked a personal best 55.28 in the same race, taking fourth place.
In the 200m, Obeng-Akrofi's school record performance netted a runner-up finish and gave her a second All-Ivy nod. With a 23.30, the Lawrenceville, Georgia, native unseated Sharay Hale's school record 23.33 from 2011.
Columbia had a pair of finalists in the 800m, as Sarah Hardie and Brittney Wade qualified with two of the top times from day one. The two Lions, along with Princeton's Jackie Bernardo, separated from the pack in the final stretch, but Hardie took the tape in 2:07.97, followed by Bernardo in 2:08.13 and Wade in 2:08.31. The title for the junior from Columbia was her sixth career Heps championship. Hardie and Wade went on to take third in the 4x800m relay alongside Devon Towell, who was fifth in the 1,500m run, and Jillian Murray.
The 5,000m run ended much like the 10,000m, with a Columbia senior well out in front of the pack to win the title. A little over a mile into the race, Henna Rustami went to the front and never looked back, increasing her lead on the field with each passing lap. The Syosset, New York, native posted her first career Outdoor Heps title with a 16:24.51 showing, which was 12 seconds faster than the next closest competitor, and improved on her second place run in last year's Heps 5,000m.
Other highlights included the Lions doubling-up in both the triple jump and 3,000m steeplechase. Anna Williams became a four-time All-Ivy League performer in the triple jump when she took second at 12.60m (41'4.25") while Maryam Hassan claimed third in the same event at 12.54m (41'1.75") in her first Outdoor Heps. Nell Crosby became an All-Ivy League honoree with a second place showing in the steeplechase at 10:25.31, followed by Erin Melly in sixth at 10:50.37.
Columbia Men - 7th place, 48 points
With a pair of gold medals in his final Outdoor Heps, Robert Napolitano became an eight-time Ivy League champion.
The senior started his day with a challenge in the 1,500m run against a pair of dangerous runners in Princeton's William Paulson and Yale's James Randon, who was on his home track. Trailing the two conference foes in the final lap, Napolitano made his move on the final turn, taking over first place and holding on until the finish line in 3:45.84. Paulson was second in 3:46.07, with Randon taking third in 3:46.34.
Napolitano went on to anchor Columbia's 4x800m relay with three runners that were all in other races throughout the event. Sam Ritz, Willie Hall and Alek Sauer put the Lions in a strong position, as Napolitano received the baton in first place and took the tape in 7:27.10.
Another championship run for the men came in the 5,000m run from Ryan Thomas, who was taking part in his first career Outdoor Heps.
After a fourth place finish in the Indoor Heps 3,000m run, Thomas had the confidence, as well as the best time in the 5,000m field among the entries. Thomas and Brian Zabilski were among the seven runners separated from the pack in the final 800m, while Thomas took over the lead on the back stretch of the final lap. The junior grew a lead over Cornell's Dominic DeLuca on the last turn, and kicked home in 14:13.41 for a three second victory. Zabilski also scored points in fifth at 14:21.70.
The Lions had points on day two from Josiah Langstaff in the 800m when he took third in 1:54.12, followed by Sauer in fourth at 1:54.36. Keenan Piper claimed fourth in the 3,000m steeplechase at 9:07.28, while Robert O'Brien finished fifth on day one in the pole vault, breaking his own school record at 5.11m (16'9.25").