Indoor track and field will travel to Hanover this weekend to compete in the Ivy League championships, the penultimate meet of the Light Blue’s indoor season.
This meet will offer the first opportunity for Columbia’s impressive distance program and expanding field events program to challenge itself against all seven Ivy competitors on the same stage this indoor season.
At last year’s championships, the Lions ran away with a third-place finish on the women’s side, falling only to Harvard and Penn at the Armory. Since then, the women’s team has placed in fourth at the Ivy League Outdoor Championships, and the distance squad won the Ivy League Cross Country Championships, placed third in the NCAA Regionals, and finished the cross country season in 28th place in the nation last fall.
While several key athletes at last year’s championships graduated in May, the women’s cross country team clearly demonstrated its strength in the fall, and the Lions have been able to consistently put forth solid performances this winter.
Having just broken the school record in the mile last weekend, senior Sarah Hardie will look to improve upon her reputation. She has won the 1000-meter run for the past three seasons, and will most likely have the opportunity to defend her title this weekend. Senior Akua Obeng-Akrofi will likely be among the top finishers in several sprints and won the 400-meter dash last year in a time of 54.10 seconds.
The women’s relay teams have had the chance to shine this winter and will likely be an important source of points for the team this weekend. At last year’s meet, the distance medley relay proved crucial to the women’s success, and the Light Blue will look to repeat its impressive efforts in the relays.
Harvard has won the last five indoor Ivy titles on the women’s side and will likely remain a fierce competitor this season, but Dartmouth currently ranks No. 1 in the Northeast region USTFCCCA rankings, just above the Crimson, and will have the advantage of competing on its home track. Columbia sits in sixth place in these rankings and fourth among Ivy teams, just behind Brown.
At last year’s championships, the men’s team struggled to put up substantial points and finished the meet in seventh. The team relied heavily on distance events and did not race anyone in a distance shorter than the 400-meter dash.
In distance events at last year’s championships, current junior Alek Sauer took first in the 1000-meter run, beating four other athletes by less than a second. Last weekend, competing at the BU David Hemery Valentine Invitational, sophomore Kenny Vasbinder took second in the mile while junior Tyler Italiano was also runner-up in the 3000-meter run.
In field events on the men’s side this season, junior Robert O’Brien has been consistent in the pole vault, while sophomore Daniel Igbokwe has been just as reliable in the triple jump. Both O’Brien and Igbokwe hold the school records in their respective events.
Princeton has won the last three indoor championships on the men’s side, but it is Brown that sits highest in the USTFCCCA rankings. Columbia is currently ranked 12th in the Northeast and fourth among Ivy foes, behind Brown, Cornell, and Harvard.
While Columbia faces great challenges this weekend on both the men’s and women’s sides, the meet will likely offer opportunities for individual athletes to shine and will give the Lions a chance to see all of their Ivy competitors on the same track ahead of the outdoor season.
Races will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday in Hanover and continue into Sunday.