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May 5, 2012

Men's Outdoor Track & Field Championships Preview

Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track & Field Championships Central

PHILADELPHIA -- The 2012 Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonal Championships return to Philadelphia for the 16th time and the first since 2009. Cornell and Princeton have combined to win four of the past five Outdoor Championships at Franklin Field, while the Big Red have won the last two. Last season, the Tigers ended Cornell's eight-year winning streak with an 11-point victory in New Haven, Conn., the closest finish since Cornell won by three points over Princeton in 2003.

Cornell and Princeton have held the top two spots in the Outdoor Championships the past six years and hope to continue that trend, while Brown, which has placed third the past two seasons, hopes to take over the top spot in 2012.

Brown Bears – The Bears are ranked No. 10 in the latest USTFCCCA Northeast Region poll. Sophomore John Spooney looks to become Brown's first-ever back-to-back champion in the 100m and the second Bear to win consecutive 200m titles since James Rudasil (1972-73). Spooney currently ranks second in the League in the 200m (21.41), third in the 400m (47.71) and sixth in the 100m (10.65). The Bears also return sophomore Evan Weinstock, who took first in the decathlon in 2011. Senior Dan Lowry's 13:34.49 is the top 5,000m time in the League this season and ranks seventh in the nation.

Columbia Lions – Columbia is ranked No. 3 in the latest USTFCCCA Northeast Region poll. Junior Mark Feigen was the runner-up in the 2011 1,500m, but to take over the top spot he will have to get past senior Kyle Merber, whose 3:42.49 is the League's best time in that event and the ninth-fastest time in the country this season. Merber won the 1,500m title in 2010 and looks to return to the top of the podium in 2012. In the distance events, junior Mike Murphy ranks third in the 10,000m (29:26.68) and ninth in the 5,000m (14:07.00).

Cornell Big Red – Cornell is ranked No. 1 in the latest USTFCCCA Northeast Region poll. The Big Red returns 12 All-Ivy performers, including three 2011 champions. Cornell swept the hurdles last season, as seniors Dan Hagberg and Brian Freitas won the 110mH and 400mH, respectively, while junior Nick Wade took the 800m title.  In 2012, the Big Red holds the first or second spot in 10 events and is 1-2 in both the 110m and 400m hurdles. Cornell also has the best marks in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays, as well as the 800m (Rutger Admirand, 1:49.50), high jump (Montez Blair, 7-2 ½), long jump (Steven Bell, 24-7 ¼), shot put (Stephen Mozia, 61-3), discus (Mozia, 171-10) and decathlon (Nick Huber, 7,620). Huber's decathlon mark is the third-best in Ivy League history.

Dartmouth Big Green – Dartmouth is ranked No. 15 in the latest USTFCCCA Northeast Region poll. The Big Green boasts a trio of top performers in the sprints, distance and field events. Junior Connor Reilly holds the season's fastest 100m time, at 10.46, which is the 22nd-best mark in the country. He also ranks sixth in the League in the 200m, with a time of 21.80. Senior Ethan Shaw, who won the individual cross country title in October, leads the League in the 10,000m with a time of 29:17.89, the 34th-fastest mark in the nation. Junior Brett Gilson is one of two Ivies to pass the 200-foot plateau in the javelin and ranks second in the League with a mark of 210-11, which is the 23rd-best in the country.

Harvard Crimson – Harvard is No. 7 in the latest USTFCCCA Northeast Region poll. The Crimson returns three All-Ivy performers from last season, including senior Nico Weiler. The reigning outdoor pole vault champion has two such titles during his career. He took the indoor title this season and currently leads the League with a 17-5, the seventh-best mark in the country this season and the third-best mark in Ivy history.The Crimson has an excellent chance in the throwing events, as sophomore Dustin Brode won the shot put in 2011 and currently ranks third in that event (57-4 ¼), eighth in the discus (160-8) and seventh in the hammer throw (176-6). Freshman Dean Sullivan holds the League's best javelin throw, 219-10, which is the 13th-best in the nation.

Penn Quakers – Penn returns five All-Ivy performers from a year ago, including all four from the title-winning 4x800m squad in juniors Robert Harwood and Matt Chylak and seniors Brian Fulton and James Finucane. Sophomore Maalik Reynolds, who won the 2011 outdoor and the 2012 indoor high jump titles, ranks second in the League this season with a mark of 7-0 ½. He is hoping to become Penn's first back-to-back outdoor high jump champion since Robert Bredin (1946-47). The Quakers hope the home cooking will serve them well, as they placed third the last time Franklin Field hosted the Outdoor Championships, in 2009.

Princeton Tigers – Princeton is the top-ranked team in the USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic region poll and is No. 24 in the latest USTFCCCA National poll. The Tigers return 14 All-Ivy performers from last year's championship squad, including Donn Cabral, who ranks first this season in the steeplechase with a time of 8:39.92, the third-best mark in the country. Sophomore Tom Hopkins won two titles in 2011 and currently leads the League in both the 200m (21.29) and 400m (46.23). His time in the 400m is sixth-best in the country so far this season. Sophomore Damon McLean holds the League's top triple jump mark at 51-8 ¼, which is fifth-best in the country. He also ranks second in the League in the long jump with a leap of 24-4 ½. Sophomore Conor McCullough is the League-leader in the hammer throw with a toss of 242-10, an all-time Ivy record and the best in the country this season.

Yale Bulldogs – Yale returns 2011 outdoor discus champion in junior Michael Levine, who currently ranks second in that event (171-10) and second in the hammer throw (192-7). On the track, senior Matt Bieszard is fourth in the League in the 200m (21.49) and the 400m (47.98), as well as 10th in the 100m (10.85). Fellow classmate Nathan Richards holds the fifth-best League time in the steeplechase this season at 9:05.08 and the Bulldogs' 4x400m relay team's 3:17.38 is second-best in the League this season. Yale placed seventh, fourth and fifth the past three seasons, respectively, and looks to get back to 2007-2008 form, when it finished third both years.