NEW YORK – The outdoor season opens up Saturday for the Columbia track & field teams, who head to Philadelphia for the Penn Challenge.
Field events on Saturday’s meet get under way at noon, with a 1:00 p.m. start for running events. Aside from the Lions and the host Quakers, Army, UConn, Cornell, Rider, St. John’s, and Villanova are all slated to compete.
As a team, Columbia most recently competed in the IC4A/ECAC Indoor Championships, back on March 3-4. Akua Obeng-Akrofi, who is entered in three events on Saturday, was victorious in the final indoor 400m of her career to lead the women to a fifth place team finish, while the men’s DMR team impressed with a season best 9:46.25 behind Brian McGovern, Jackson Storey, Josiah Langstaff, and Spencer Haik.
From an individual standpoint, the last Lion to compete on the track was Sarah Hardie, who took part in the 1 Mile at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships. The senior advanced to the final with an opening round 4:40.24, claiming 10th place overall and earning All-American honors.
At the 2018 Indoor Heps, the women put together a fourth place finish in the team standings, behind a win in the 400m by Obeng-Akrofi, a first place performance from Hardie in the 1,000m run, and a DMR title from Nell Crosby, Bianca Alonzo, Betty Jackson, and Hardie. The Columbia men came away with a pair of titles, as Alek Sauer won his second consecutive 1,000m run, and Kenny Vasbinder came from behind to take the tape in the 5,000m.
Returning conference champions from the 2017 Outdoor season include Ryan Thomas, who won the Outdoor Heps 5,000m run, and Sam Ritz, Willie Hall, and Sauer, who claimed a title in the 4x800m relay. The women bring back the 2017 Ivy League 400m champion in Obeng-Akrofi, while Hardie claimed a conference title of her own in the 800m last season.