NEW YORK – The Columbia track & field team is set to begin its 2014 indoor season on Saturday, Jan. 18 as they make the trip to Hanover, N.H. for its annual Ivy League tri-meet against host Dartmouth and Yale.
Field events are slated to begin at 11 a.m. starting with the jumps. Running events will follow at 12 p.m. with the 60-meter hurdles and the final event is the 4x400m relay scheduled for 2:50 p.m. Meet results will be available at GoColumbiaLions.com and DirectAthletics.com following the competition.
The Lions are coming off a brilliant fall cross country season. The men’s team had one of the best performances in program history en route to an Ivy League Championship, an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships with a runner-up finish at the Northeast Regionals, and a program best national ranking of No. 8 during the year.
“Everyone has returned very fit. I am very excited about the potential of both teams. I expect significant improvement from basically everyone. We had a great fall and I look forward to the start of the indoor season,” said Willy Wood, Columbia Director of Cross Country/Track & Field
The Lions return a number of key competitors from last year’s campaign. Columbia continues to have depth in the men’s middle-distance events. Three members of the program record-setting men's distance medley relay return, including John Gregorek, Connor Claflin and Harrison McFann. McFann will look to build on a solid 2013 season where he earned second team All-Ivy League honors with a runner-up finish in the men’s 800m at Heps.
“For the men, the goal is to be one of the best middle distance and distance programs in the nation,” said Wood.
The women’s team graduated some of the best performers in program history, including two-time All American Sharay Hale, three-time Ivy League indoor long jump champion in Uju Ofoche and three-time indoor triple jump champion in QueenDenise Okeke.
Despite the losses the Lions still maintain a number of returning impressive performers. Marvellous Iheukwumere had a stellar 2013 indoor season, grabbing a pair of Ivy League titles in the 60m and 200m sprints. Nadia Eke will be charged with continuing the Lions’ dominance in the jumps. The junior is more than capable having won the 2012 conference indoor triple jump crown and finishing as runner-up in the event last season.
“Last year, the women's team was pretty disappointed with our third place indoor finish and our second place outdoor finish at Heps. We want to win, and we are certainly capable of it. This year, we need to make sure all event areas are ready to contribute,” said Nicole Blood, Columbia Track & Field Assistant Coach
“The women are aiming to take their title back. We want to win Heps. Waverly Neer and Olivia Sadler will lead the distance women. I am expecting everyone to make big steps from last year,” said Blood.
A major addition to this year’s indoor team is the healthy return of standout Waverly Neer. The junior is coming off an impressive cross country season where she grabbed second place at Heps to earn first team All-Ivy League honors and was beaten only by the eventual individual National Champion Abbey D'Agostino from Dartmouth. She also finished fourth at the NCAA Northeast Regional to pick up All-Region honors and punched a ticket to the NCAA National Championships. This will mark her first indoor season since 2012 where she captured the 3,000m Ivy League crown.FEATURED INTERVIEW: Track & Field Coaches Talk Upcoming Indoor Season