The Green, Black and Gold

Posted: 27 January by Brett Hoover in Athletes, Princeton
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It is no longer a secret that track and field is a national obsession on the island of Jamaica. There are far more Jamaican flags waving about in the stands at the Penn Relays than red, white and blue ones. And when I lived in New Jersey, I couldn’t catch the bus without running into a Jamaican track hero as former George Mason middle-distance star Simon Bowen was my neighbor and remains a close friend.

There hasn’t been a huge migration from the land of Marley to the Ivy League, but there have been some notable exceptions. Brown grad Mark Thompson represented the homeland in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1992 Barcelona Games while Harvard’s Nicky Grant has won several Jamaican hammer throw titles.

And the latest Jamaican looking to conquer Heps is Princeton freshman Damon McLean, who is the League’s top triple jumper this year. Paul Burrowes of the Jamaica Observer recently caught up with McLean, who said that he chose Princeton because he “watned to grow both intellectually and athletically.”

He reported that “academics take the forefront” in the Ivy League. “I eventually decided to enter the Ivy League, especially Princeton, because I found the coach to be a great one … that is capable of helping me better myself,” McLean told Burrowes. “I really want to establish myself on the national scene. I know this will take time, but with the experience of the coaching staff and my work ethics, I know I will continue the strong tradition of Jamaican jumpers in the NCAA.”

He will also look to continue a remarkable line of Ivy TJers, which include NCAA Champions Rayon Taylor and Muhammad Halim and world championship qualifier Samyr Laine.

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The Weekend, Then The Returns

Posted: 27 January by Pat Melton in Announcement, Athletes
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It might be too early for this. And, in fact, there may never be an appropriate time for this. But after this weekend’s action, we will be breaking down the season performance list — Heps scoring style — and seeing where things shake out.

If we did it now, you’d see that on the women’s side it is a tight battle between Columbia and Princeton with Cornell not too far behind. On the men’s side, the superior depth of the Big Red has Cornell with a substantial lead over Princeton. But we will wait through the weekend to gather that data as we will finally be heading into Heps month.

Because of conflicting information online, here is my best stab at putting together this weekend’s schedule:

Friday
Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale at the Terrier Invitational (Boston U. Track Center: Boston, Mass.)
Harvard hosts Dartmouth at the Harvard Multi-Meet (Gordon Track: Cambridge, Mass.)
Columbia and Penn at Penn State National Invitational (Ashenfelter Track: University Park, Pa.)
Brown at the Boston Collegiate Indoor Games (Reggie Lewis Center: Boston, Mass.)

Saturday
Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale at the Terrier Invitational (Boston U. Track Center: Boston, Mass.)
Harvard hosts Dartmouth at the Harvard Multi-Meet (Gordon Track: Cambridge, Mass.)
Columbia at Metropolitan Championships (The Armory: New York, N.Y.)
Columbia and Penn at Penn State National Invitational (Ashenfelter Track: University Park, Pa.)
Penn at Wesley Brown Invitational (Wesley Brown Field House: Annapolis, Md.)
Cornell and Princeton at NYRR Saturday Night at the Races II (The Armory: New York, N.Y.)

By the way, that is a great photo from the great Dan Grossman from the Harvard Challenge last weekend.

If you are digging out of more than a foot of snow in New York or Philadelphia today, you may not even imagine that we are still in the midst of the outdoor running season. And, as always, the Heps Nation is well represented.

At least four former Leaguers will be running in Saturday’s USA Half Marathon Championships, which will be contested as part of the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in Texas. The former Hepsters are Army’s Dan Browne (U.S. Army), Columbia’s Loretta Kilmer (RIADHA), Princeton’s David Nightingale (unattached) and Harvard’s Lindsey Scherf (unattached). [That’s Browne pictured at an Army 10-mile run in D.C.]

Then there are at least eight Hepsters readying to run in the USA Cross Country Championships, schedules for Feb. 5 at Mission Bay Park in San Diego. This race will serve as the trials to determine Team USA for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, which will run in Punta Umbria, Spain, on March 20.

Those we know:

Princeton’s Alexa Glencer (Impala Racing Team); Princeton’s Reilly Kiernan (New York Athletic Club); Cornell’s Max King (Bowerman Athletic Club); Navy’s Aaron Lanzel (U.S. Navy); Penn’s Chris Lundy (Impala Racing Team); Princeton’s Catherine Mullen (New Balance Silicon Valley); Cornell’s Stephanie Pancoast (New Balance Silicon Valley) and Dartmouth’s Jarrod Shoemaker (Saucony).

By the way, those in New York City — battling 19 inches of snow — can still think about cross country, specifically at Van Cortlandt Park, today.

The Fastest Ivy?

Posted: 25 January by Brett Hoover in Announcement
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Call me crazy, but I think Heps should take a lesson from the Millrose Games when it comes to the Super 60 event it has established and will run Friday. The USATF press release explains:

All-stars, gold medalists and hometown heroes will be among the eclectic group of accomplished professional and Olympic athletes to contest the “Super 60 II” at the 104th Millrose Games.

Launched in 2010, the Super 60 II is a 60-meter proving ground for stars to showcase the universal component of speed in all sports, and to help determine which sport has the most potent combination of power, speed and acceleration.

I propose that Heps put out the call to all athletes around the League to figure out who is the fastest non-trackster, one male and one female, on each campus and bring them to Heps for an exhibition. Hockey, football, sailing, basketball, tennis. Whatever.

Don’t think that there is time in the schedule? Well, I guarantee that there is!

In the last five years at Indoor and Outdoor Heps, there have been 55 preliminaries scheduled in the sprints and hurdles. How many of them have actually been contested? Drumroll, please….. THREE!

All three have come in the women’s indoor 200-meter dash (2006-07-09) and that trio of first rounds eliminated a grand total of seven athletes. That also means that not a single Outdoor prelim has taken place since 2005, when the women’s 100-meter dash had a false start in the first heat and every competitor advanced, regardless of time. Those holes in the schedule will provide ample time for an exhibition, something that would both attract and please spectators.

So let’s get this done — the Ivy Open Challenge — a 60-meter dash at Indoor Heps and a 100-meter dash at Outdoors. Who’s with me? We’ll chat about the Alumni Mile later.

[By the way, that’s Green Bay’s B.J. Raji, who scored a sloooow touchdown over the weekend against the Bears, at the 2009 NFL Combine.]

Class Warfare

Posted: 25 January by Brett Hoover in Athletes
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Noticing that a number of freshmen were among the Ivy’s top sprinters and jumpers, the staff here at HepsTrack.com went into deep research mode — which means that a certain puppy didn’t get her walk in until 8:30 am.

The results confirmed our suspicions. The class with the most spots among the top 10 in the League? FRESHMEN. That’s thanks to a wide lead from the men’s Class of 2014, which is holding down 53 of the spots, compared to the second-place junior class total of 41. Among the women, the junior class leads (with 45) by a much narrower margin.

Here’s the total class breakdown of top 10s: Overall — 1. Freshmen, 93; 2. Juniors, 86; 3. Sophomores, 76; 4. Seniors, 67. Men — 1. Freshmen, 53; 2. Juniors, 41; 3. Sophomores, 36; 4. Seniors, 32. Women — 1. Juniors, 45; 2. Freshmen & Sophomores, 40; 4. Seniors, 35.

All that said, freshmen hold the top spot in just five events total — Cornell’s Chris Bain (60m), Penn’s Maalik Reynolds (HJ), Princeton’s Damon McLean (TJ), Columbia’s Tara Richmond (HJ) and Penn’s Christine Cohick (5k).

The leaders:

MEN
60m dash — Chris Bain, Cornell (6.79)
200m dash — Marty Evans, Yale (21.87)
400m dash — Russell Dinkins, Princeton (47.95)
500m dash — Mike Eddy, Princeton (1:03.79)
800m run — Peter Callahan, Princeton (1:51.43)
1,000m run — Nick Wade, Cornell (2:23.66)
Mile run — Adrien Dannemiller, Cornell (4:08.56)
3,000m run — Ethan Shaw, Dartmouth (8:16.89)
5,000m run — Robert Miclkas, Cornell (15:12.47)
60m hurdles — Richard Sheldon, Princeton (8.25)
High jump — Maalik Reynolds, Penn (7-3)
Pole vault — David Slovenski, Princeton (16-2 3/4)
Long jump — Dion Lehman, Princeton (23-11)
Triple jump — Damon McLean, Princeton (50-10)
Shot put — Bob Belden, Cornell (55-9)
Weight throw — David Irving, Dartmouth (61-2 1/4)
Heptathlon — Nick Huber, Cornell (5,370)

WOMEN
60m dash — Melissa Hewitt, Cornell (7.53)
200m dash — Melissa Hewitt, Cornell (24.68)
400m dash — Sharay Hale, Columbia (54.18)
500m dash — Sharay Hale, Columbia (1:12.49)
800m run — Kate Grace, Yale (2:11.88)
1,000m run — Kim Standridge, Cornell (2:46.48)
Mile run — Ashley Higginson, Princeton (4:48.73)
3,000m run — Mel Newbery, Princeton (9:41.78)
5,000m run — Christine Cohick, Penn (17:42.24)
60m hurdles — Kyra Caldwell, Columbia (8.64)
High jump — Tara Richmond & Monique Roberts, Columbia (5-8 3/4)
Pole vault — Tory Worthen, Princeton (12-9 1/2)
Long jump — Melissa Hewitt, Cornell (19-7)
Triple jump — Rachel Biblo, Brown (39-8)
Shot put — Thanithia Billings, Princeton (49-1 3/4)
Weight throw — Thanithia Billings, Princeton (63-0 1/4)
Pentathlon — Karen Schillinger, Cornell (3,305)

I think had I ever done it, I might have been a decent shot putter. I say that because running and jumping were never in my repertoire, so if I had to choose, it would have been easy. I’d have been a thrower.

I used to lift weights regularly and discovered that I had a strong upper back… and shoulders. Working out in the fitness center at Dillon Gymnasium on Princeton’s campus, I used to find myself sharing the downstairs Hammer Strength equipment with several Tiger athletes. What made them struggle on the seated row machine and the military press came easy to me.

Already in my 30s, it made me wish I’d been a thrower in my youth. I was at Barton Hall one year, the afternoon before Indoor Heps. No one was in the cage and a shot put was just laying there. So I gathered it up and without any rotation, wearing a dress shirt and boots, flung it with most of my might. And it wasn’t too bad. One of the Heps’ coaches, and I can’t recall whom, witnessed it and was impressed. Even wondered if I’d thrown in college.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really find track and field back then. It found me. I took a job at Penn 20 years ago and became embedded in the Penn Relays. And I have loved track and field ever since. I love that whatever your starting point, you get out of it what you put into it.

I wish more kids found their way to the nearest track coach. That’s why I love what has happened at the Armory in Washington Heights, where next month’s Indoor Heps will take place. That building, the vision of Dr. Norbert Sander, has propelled thousands and thousands of kids to find the nearest track coach. Thanks to the Armory, track and field participation has grown exponentially in New York City in the last two decades. I plan to write more about the facility in the coming weeks.

And I am also pleased to report that track and field — known as athletics elsewhere on this planet — is the biggest growth sport in all of England. Not by a little either. Check out this piece from Andy Haylett, a research manager at Ipsos.

Hopefully the surge will uncover the next great thrower.