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February 27, 2014

Men's Indoor Track & Field Championship Preview

Championship Central

HANOVER, N.H. -- The Ancient Eight has traveled up to Dartmouth to compete in the Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track & Field Championships at Leverone Field House.

Sunday's finals will be streamed live on The Ivy League® Digital Network, starting at 12pm.

The last five times the Ivy League Indoor Track & Field Championships have been held at Dartmouth, Princeton has won three times and Cornell twice. Which is not at all surprising, considering the two teams have combined to win 19 of the past 20 championships. In fact, the last time a team not from Ithaca, N.Y. or Princeton, N.J. won the championship was in 1997, when it went to Penn.

In 2013, the Big Red bested the Tigers, 157-156, in the closest finish since the 1986 indoor championships, when Princeton defeated the Big Red, 96 ¾-96.

The Tigers lost five 2013 first-team All-Ivy performers to graduation, while the Big Red lost two, but both teams are re-tooled and ready to go. Princeton certainly wants to get back to the top of the standings, while Cornell wants to win its second-straight title for the first time since going back-to-back in 2008 and 2009. But both squads will have to get past the other six teams, who look to have something to say about this year's championship.

Team-by-team breakdown:

BROWN
The Bears look to their middle distance teams to garner valuable points. Sophomore Ned Willig, who won the 1K last season, ranks first in this event, just ahead of senior Colin Savage, who is third. Willig also holds the third-fastest 800m time in the League this season, while junior Henry Tufnell and senior Matt Bevil rank fourth and fifth, respectively. Brown went 1-2 in the heptathlon in 2013, and both athletes are back in senior Evan Weinstock and junior Peter Rhodes. Weinstock, who is looking to become the first back-to-back winner for Brown in the pentathlon since Colm Moran in 1990-91, holds the highest mark in the League this season (5,214), while Rhodes is close behind with a score of 5,132.  

COLUMBIA
The Lions return its entire 4x800m relay team that placed second a year ago in junior Brendon Fish, junior Connor Claflin and seniors John Gregorek and Harry McFann. McFann also was the runner-up in the 800m, an event in which he ranks first in the League this season, just ahead of Fish, who is second. Fish also holds the fourth-fastest 1K time this year, just ahead of Gregorek (fifth) and freshman Rob Napolitano (sixth). Gregorek, meanwhile, also ranks seventh in the mile, just ahead of junior Daniel Everett (eighth), who is also fourth in the 3K. Gregorek, McFann, Fish and Everett's DMR time of 9:30.72 is the Ivy's best this season and second-fastest in League history. In the field events, sophomore Chancelor Griffin is sixth in the triple jump and senior Duncan Dickerson ranks seventh in the weight throw.

CORNELL
The Big Red is ranked No. 24 in the latest USTFCCCA National poll. Cornell returns a number of All-Ivy performers from a year ago, including senior Bruno Hortelano-Roig, who won the 400m and is ranked first in the 60m this season. Sophomore Max Hairston is the defending 60mH champion and his time this season (7.92) is sixth-best in League history, while last year's 800m champion senior Will Weinlandt is ninth in this event in 2013-14. Junior Stephen Mozia, who holds four of the top-five all-time shot put marks in Ivy League history, including an Ivy-best 67-4 set this season, looks to become the Big Red's first shot put champion since Zach Beadle in 2005. Mozia finished second in both the shot put and the weight throw a year ago. Senior Montez Blair, meanwhile, held off Penn All-American Maalik Reynolds to win the high jump in 2013 and looks to do it again in 2014; the two have each cleared 7-4 ¼ (fourth-best all-time mark in Ivy League history) this season. Sophomore Bryan Rhodes holds the top weight throw in the League in 2014, reaching 64-10 ½.

DARTMOUTH
The Big Green's distance runners hope to pick up key points, including junior Will Geoghegan, who ranks first in the mile and second in the 3K. His mile time of 3:58.04 is an all-time Ivy best, while his 3,000m time of 7:51.57 is second-best all-time in the League behind the person who finished just ahead of him in that particular race, Harvard's Maksim Korolev. Dartmouth junior John Bleday ranks fourth in the mile (4:00.69) and ninth in the 3K. Freshman Alex Frye will pull double duty for the Big Green, as he ranks fifth in the high jump and eighth in the 60mH. Senior Josh Cyphers is fifth in the pole vault and junior TJ Servino ranks ninth in the weight throw.

HARVARD
The Crimson took third last season with 86 points, its best finish and highest points total since the 1985 Championships at Dartmouth, when it won the championship with 108. Senior Maksim Korolev, the 2013 Indoor 3K and 2013 Ivy League Cross Country champion, holds the fastest times in the League this season in both the 3K (7:51.52) and the 5K (13:42.56). In fact, those times are the fastest all-time in Ivy League history in their respective events. His teammate James Leakos ranks second in the League in the 5K with a time of 13:51.22, which marks the fourth-fastest time in League history. Also on the track, Harvard returns the 2013 60m runner-up in senior Connor McCarthy, while fellow classmate Andrew Ezekoye ranks second in that event this season. In the field, the Crimson won the shot put (senior Dustin Brode) and the weight throw (junior Ben Glauser) last season; each ranks second so far this year in their respective event.

PENN
Senior three-time All-American Maalik Reynolds looks to return to the top of the podium in his signature event, the high jump, after just losing out to Cornell's Montez Blair last season. Both have cleared 7-4 ¼ to lead the League this season, fourth-best all-time mark in Ivy history. The Quakers also have sophomore Sam Mattis, who ranks eighth in the shot put and 10th in the weight throw, and junior Mato Bekelja, who is sixth in both the 500m and 800m. Bekelja was also a member of the Quakers' 4x800m relay team that holds the fastest time in the League so far this season. Sophomore Ben Bowers is third in the 60mH and fellow classmate Thomas Awad ranks fifth in the 3,000m.

PRINCETON
The Tigers return eight All-Ivy performers from a year ago, including senior Damon McLean, who won both the long jump and the triple jump; senior Tom Hopkins, who placed second in the 400m and was a part of the winning 4x400m relay team; senior Chris Bendtsen, who placed second in both the 3K and 5K. McLean is looking to become the first four-time triple jump champion since Cornell's James Leonard from 1972-75 and Princeton's first back-to-back long jump champion since Ugwunna Ikpeowo in 1995-96. He ranks first in the triple jump this season, while his teammate Hopkins is first in the long jump. Hopkins also has the top time in the 500m and the second-fastest time in the 400m, while Bendtsen ranks third in the 3,000m. Senior Michael Williams is second in the mile, although his time of 3:59.63 ranks sixth in Ivy history. Sophomore Adam Bragg's pole vault clearance of 17-1 ½ is best in the League this season.

YALE
Bulldogs freshman Marc-Andre Alexandre has burst out the gate running, so to speak, as his 400m time of 47.45 is best in the League this season. He would be Yale's first 400m champion since Charles Clarke in 1993. Alexandre also ranks 10th in the 60m dash. He and senior James Shirvell look to lead Yale on the track, as Shirvell ranks third in the mile with a time of 4:00.54. A win in that event would be Yale's first since Rick Wemple in 1991. In the field events, sophomore Brendan Sullivan is third in the pole vault and looks to become Yale's first winner of that event since Jesse Stern in 1997, while senior Dana Lindberg ranks eighth in the long jump.