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February 21, 2013

2013 Heptagonal Men's Indoor Track & Field Championship Preview

Championship Central

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Princeton won its third-straight Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track & Field title in 2012, the longest streak since the Tigers won five in a row from 1998-2002. Princeton has won 15 titles in its history, including 13 in the past 19 years. In each of the past 10 years, Cornell and Princeton has taken the top two spots. But to continue that trend in 2013, both squads will need to bring their best effort to Cambridge, Mass.  

The years that Harvard has hosted the Indoor Championships have been kind to Princeton, as it has finished first or second each time, including three trophies (1986, 1994, 2001). But Cornell has taken the title the last two times the event was held at Gordon Track, in 2005 and 2009, and it hopes to make it three in a row in 2013. The Big Red leads the League with a combined 13 events in which it has the first or second-best marks, including an Ivy-best six events in which it ranks No. 1. Princeton is next with a combined 10 first or second-best rankings, followed by Columbia (six) and Harvard (five).

Five first-team All-Ivy performers from last season have moved on, leaving room open for new names to take the titles in the 1,000m, 5,000m, 60m hurdles, weight throw and heptathlon.

Team-by-team breakdown:

Brown: Junior John Spooney, after finishing second in the 60m dash by a scant 100th of a second, looks to win his first individual indoor title in 2013. Spooney, who ranks first in the 60m dash this season, was part of Brown's first-place winning 4 x 400m team last season. Freshman Ned Willig and senior Erik Berg rank first and third, respectively, in the 1,000m, while Berg also holds the fourth-fastest mile time this season (4:03.93). In the field events, senior Kenneth Thompson's triple jump mark of 47-9 is fifth-best in the League and sophomore Peter Rhodes is one of four Ivies to break the 5,000-point plateau in the heptathlon, as his score of 5,055 ranks third this year.

Columbia: The Lions will be a force to be reckoned with in the distance track events, as junior Harry McFann and sophomore Connor Claflin rank fourth and fifth in the 500m and McFann, sophomore Brendon Fish and Claflin are currently 1-2-3 in the 800m. Fish also holds the second-best 1,000m time (2:24.10). Columbia's 4 x 800m and distance medley relay teams each hold the best times in those events by more than 10 seconds ahead of their closest competitors. The Lions also have four of the top five 5,000m times this season, as senior Mike Murphy, junior Jake Sienko, sophomore Paul Ross and senior Leighton Spencer rank 2-3-4-5 in the event.

Cornell: Junior Montez Blair hopes to unseat two-time defending champion and All-American Maalik Reynolds of Penn in the high jump. Blair set the second-best mark in Ivy League history earlier this season, clearing 7-5 ¼, and nudged out Reynolds for first-place when the two competed against each other in Penn State's Sykes-Sabock Challenge. Blair will also have to get past his teammate Keith Raybun, who is tied for second in the event with Reynolds. Big Red sophomore Stephen Mozia hopes to break Princeton's hold on the shot put title, as the Tigers have won the past three. Mozia's mark this season of 65-3 ¼ is the second-highest all-time in Ivy League history. Senior Jedidiah Adarquah-Yiadon, who won the 2011 60m title, looks to get back to the top of the podium, as he ranks second in that event this season. Cornell is also 2-3 in the 400m with senior Bruno Hortelano-Roig and freshman Max Hairston, and sophomore Rutger Admirand holds the second-fastest 500m time in the League this year (1:04.25). Senior Nick Wade became the first-ever Big Red to break the four minute mile mark, coming in at 3:59.998, and ranks first in that event. Cornell also holds the top marks in the 5,000m, 4 x 400m relay and long jump.

Dartmouth: The Big Green hopes to win its first Ivy title since 1992, when it wrapped up its fifth-straight championship, tied for the best streak in League history (Princeton, 1998-2002). Junior John Bleday, the defending 3,000m champion, is the only Ivy to break the eight-minute mark in that event this season, as his time of 7:59.33 currently ranks 26th in the NCAA. Bleday also posted the third-fastest mile time in the League this season, coming in at 4:02.89. Junior Phil Royer ranks seventh in the 3,000m with a time of 8:07.23, while senior Jon Gault and sophomore Dylan O'Sullivan are 6-7 in the 5,000m. Junior Dom Filiano ranks sixth in the shot put and 10th in the weight throw, while senior Jacob Evanter is sixth in the 60m hurdles with a time of 8.22.

Harvard: The Crimson look to move up after three-straight fourth-place finishes. Harvard returns three first-team All-Ivy performers from a year ago in junior Damani Wilson (60m), senior Nico Weiler (pole vault) and sophomore Ben Glauser (shot put). Weiler set the third-best all-time pole vault mark in League history this season and ranks first in the conference and tied for 24th in the country this season. Weiler hopes to become Harvard's first back-to-back pole vault champion since Geoff Stiles in 1978-79. Glauser is tied with Cornell's Bryan Rhodes as the League leader in the weight throw this season with a toss of 61-1 ¼ and ranks second in the shot put with a mark of 58-1, just ahead of teammate Dustin Brode (57-1 ½). Wilson ranks sixth in the 60m dash this season, while sophomore Jarvis Harris is second in the 60m hurdles (8.02) and third in the triple jump (48-6 ¾).

Penn: Junior Maalik Reynolds looks to become just the third Ivy to win three-straight high jump titles, joining Princeton's Tora Harris (1998-99-01-02) and Brown's Ray Bobrownicki (2004-05-06). Reynolds currently ranks tied for second in his signature event, just ahead of freshman Thomas Pitt, who ranks sixth. Pitt is also ninth in the long jump with a leap of 23-0. Sophomore Tom Timmins holds the fastest 500m time in the League this season (1:04.13) and the fifth-fastest 400m time (49.28), while freshman Tom Hamlett ranks third in the 500m with a time of 1:04.35. Sophomore Nick Straughn's best triple jump of the season is the sixth-best in the League.

Princeton: The Tigers hope to win their fourth-straight League title for the second time in program history. They previously won five in a row from 1998-2002. Junior Tom Hopkins, who won the 400m last season and was part of the Tigers' third-place 4 x 400m relay squad, is the League-leader in the former event with a time of 47.58. He is looking to become the third Princeton runner to win back-to-back 400m titles, joining John Mack (1999-00) and Austin Hollimon (2010-11). Hopkins also ranks second in the long jump with a leap of 24-3. Princeton holds the second, third and fourth-fastest 3,000m times this season in junior Jonathan Vitez, senior Michael Franklin and sophomore Sam Pons, respectively, while sophomore Robert Mohr is the only Ivy to break the eight-second mark this season in the 60m hurdles, coming in at 7.91. Princeton is 1-2 in the triple jump, as two-time defending champion Damon McLean leads the way with a 51-1, while sophomore Nana Owusu-Nyanteky is close behind at 50-10 ¼. The two rank 25th and t-28th in the country this season, respectively. Two Tigers stand atop the standings in the heptathlon as well in sophomore Stephen Soerens (5,116) and senior Richard Sheldon (5,100). A win in that event would be the first for Princeton since Duane Hynes went back-to-back in 2008-09.

Yale: The Bulldogs look to return to their 2008-09 form, when they finished third and fourth, respectively. Yale has placed fourth each of the last two times the Ivy League Indoor Championships were held at Harvard. Sophomore Dylan Hurley ranks tied for eighth in the 400m with a time of 49.46, which he set at HYP. Fellow classmate William Rowe also ranks tied for eighth, this time in the 500m (1:04.90) while junior James Shirvell is fifth in the 1,000m (2:26.08), ninth in the mile (4:05.93) and 10th in the 800m (1:52.31). Sophomore John McGowan and senior Tim Hillas rank seventh and eighth in the mile, respectively. In the field events, senior Michael Levine ranks third in the weight throw with a toss of 58-11 ¼. He placed sixth at indoor last season.