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Senior Kyle Merber
Courtesy: Tim Flynn

2012 Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Championships Preview

Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics
          Release: 05/04/2012
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NEW YORK – The Columbia men’s and women’s track & field teams head down to Philadelphia this weekend to compete in the 2012 Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Penn’s Franklin Field.

The two-day conference championship starts on Saturday with running events beginning at 10:50 a.m. and field events beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday’s action features a 9:30 a.m. start for running events and a 10 a.m. start for field events.

THE COLUMBIA WOMEN

Columbia has had some strong individual and relay performances during the 2012 outdoor season. The Lions’ 2012 Ivy League indoor champion women’s team has continued to shine in both running and field events.

In sprints and hurdles, the Lions featured some standout performances from Marvellous Iheukwumere, Yamira Bell, Miata Morlu and Kyra Caldwell this spring and Columbia will look to rack up points and titles in these events.

Iheukwumere, the female Armory College Athlete of the Year, has continued her outstanding sophomore run with big showings in the outdoor season. Her 11.99 in the 100m at George Mason’s Patriot Open Invitational on April 14 was the second-fastest time in the Ivy League this season and a personal best. Iheukwumere also has the fourth-fastest 200m time with the 24.47 she ran at the Auburn War Eagle Invitational on April 20. Iheukwumere will compete in both the 100m and the 200m this weekend.

In the 400m, Yamira Bell and Miata Morlu give the Lions a strong combo. Both ran their best 400m at the Auburn War Eagle Invitational. Bell’s 55.43 was the league’s fifth-fastest time and Morlu’s 55.51 ranked sixth.

Connie S. Maniatty Award winner Kyra Caldwell will look to add some more Ivy League medals to her collection when she competes in both the 400m hurdles and the 100m hurdles. Caldwell’s 59.64 time in the 400m hurdles at the Sam Howell Invitational is the best time in the Ivy League this season.

Lucie Cincinatis has the team’s best 100m hurdle time of 14.23 (fifth in the Ivy League). She and Caldwell are the Lions top two entries in the event.

Madeline Rathbun and Erin Gillingham are the Lions’ top contenders at the middle distances. Rathbun had the third-fastest 800m in the Ivy League last month at George Mason’s Patriot Open Invitational with a time of 2:07.79. She makes her Outdoor Heps debut with the 800m trials Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Gillingham shined at the Patriot Open Invitational as well, posting the conference’s sixth-best 1,500m time of 4:24.65. She will run in Saturday’s 1,500m trials at 2:55 p.m.

Emily Lanois has been the Lions’ dominant distance runner this spring. In the 10,000m, Lanois clocked the second-fastest time in school history with a 33:53.06 at the 38th Stanford Invitaitonal. Her 16:34.63 in the 5,000m at the Larry Ellis Invitational on April 20 ranks fifth in the Ivy League this year. Lanois will be in action on both days, running in the 10,000m final at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday and the 3,000m final at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Mallory Anderson has the fifth-best Ivy League time in the 3,000m steeplechase with a time of 10:31.40. She will represent the Lions in the two-section event on Saturday at 12:45 p.m.

The Lions’ best relay team this outdoor season has been the 4x800 squad. At the Penn Relays, the quartet of Gillingham, Rathbun, Trina Bills and Jennifer DeSouchet clocked the second-fastest time in the Ivy League this season with an 8:51.42.

The Columbia jumpers stand among the best in the Ivy League and will look to dominate their respective events.

The Lions have the two-time defending Ivy League outdoor high jump champion in Monique Roberts. Roberts and teammate Tara Richmond are tied for the fourth-best mark in the conference this year at 1.70m. They will compete in Sunday’s high jump final at 2 p.m.

Nadia Eke will look to continue to shine in her breakout rookie year. Eke set a new school record with a 12.81m (42’0.5”) leap in the triple jump at the Sam Howell Invitational. That mark is the farthest in the conference this season. QueenDenise Okeke’s 12.32m (40’5”) jump ranks third in the conference.

In the long jump, Uju Ofoche will look to defend her 2011 Ivy League outdoor long jump crown. She has the second-best leap in the conference this season with the 5.96m (19’6.75”) distance she jumped at the Auburn War Eagle Invitational.

Like fellow seniors Caldwell and Roberts, pole vaulter Sarah Engle will be competing in her final Ivy League Championship. Her 3.65m cleared at the Penn Relays is tied for 11th best in the conference this season.

THE COLUMBIA MEN

The Lions men will look to once again rack up points and titles in the middle distance, distance and relay events. The Columbia men head into the conference championship with many entries who should make a major impact on the scoreboard.

Rookie Kevin Boyd has continued to improve as the year has progressed and heads into the 400m dash trials with the sixth-best time in the league at 48.39, which he ran at the Auburn War Eagle Invitational.

In the 400m hurdles, Cody Love will look to have another strong showing. He took third place in the event at the 2011 Outdoor Heps. The 53.57 he clocked at George Mason’s Patriot Open Invitational ranks fifth in the league.

In the middle distances, Columbia hopes to hog the medal podiums as the Lions are loaded at both the 800m and 1,500m.

Harry McFann’s 1:49.67 800m time from the Sam Howell Invitational is the second-best time in the Ivy League this year. Brendon Fish’s 1:49.80 from the Patriot Open Invitational ranks sixth.

In the 1,500m, Kyle Merber set a new school record at the Stanford Invitational with a time of 3:42.49. That performance was also the fastest in the conference this year. Rookie Daniel Everett had the fourth-best time in the Ivy League of 3:43.80 in the event and 2011 NCAA East Regional qualifier Mark Feigen has the ninth-best mark at 3:45.01.

In the 5,000m Columbia plans to race some of its younger’s standouts in sophomore Nico Composto (10th-best time, 14:13.41) and first year Paul Ross (20th-best time, 14:23.30).

The Lions’ 10,000m run and 3,000m steeplechase entries should supply a lot of Columbia Blue at the front of the pack. In the 10,000m, Mike Murphy posted the second-fastest time in Columbia history with a 29.26.68 at the Stanford Invitational and ranks third in the Ivy League with that time. Gary Brownell and Leighton Spencer are among the other distance standouts that will run the 10k with Murphy.

In the 3,000m steeplechase, the duo of John Gregorek and Ben Veillieux lead the way for the Lions. Gregorek is just one of three Ivy League runners with a sub-nine-minute steeple this year and his 8:59.28 from the Sam Howell Invitational ranks third in the conference. Veillieux’s 9:01.00 at the Larry Ellis Invitational stands as the fourth-fastest time in the league.

The Lions’ most impressive men’s relay is the 4x800m squad of Connor Claflin, Fish, Liam Tansey and Harry McFann that set the new Ivy League and school record in the event of 7:20.80 at Penn Relays. That quartet also wan the indoor 4x800m at the 2012 Ivy League indoor championships.

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