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The women's team will look to improve upon last year's fourth place finish in the Ivy League.

Track and field will send its elite athletes to compete at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships in Philadelphia this weekend.

As the Lions kick off the postseason at Heps, they will seek to build on the success that they’ve experienced throughout the regular season. Most recently, they competed at the Penn Relays, where sophomore Maryam Hassan placed first in the women’s triple jump with her distance of 12.49. On the men’s side, the distance medley relay team placed seventh with its time of 9:42.39. While many of the Light Blue’s top competitors sat out at Penn, head coach Dan Ireland is confident that everybody is prepared for this coming weekend.

“All the kids are healthy and looking good. The ones that ran at Penn ran strong. The ones that didn’t had a great week of training. Now it’s just about getting our heads straight.”

At the Ivy Championships last year, the women’s side grabbed fourth place, and the men took seventh. Then–junior Akua Obeng-Akrofi impressed in the sprints, placing second in the women’s 200-meter and taking the crown in the women’s 400-meter with her time of 54.18. For the men, then–junior Ryan Thomas took the tape in the men’s 5000-meter, running a 14:13.41. This weekend, Obeng-Akrofi and Thomas will both look to shine for the second consecutive year as their senior seasons come to a close.

On the men’s side, the Light Blue’s focus will be on scoring as many points as possible in the middle and distance running events. Based on their performances this season, the Lions have a significant competitive advantage in track events. Heading into the conference championships, they have the top three 5000-meter runners in the entire Ivy League, including junior Brian Zabilski, sophomore Kenny Vasbinder, and Thomas. Zabilski leads the pack after logging a time of 13:59.18 at the Virginia Challenge.

The women are hoping to grab points in a variety of events and are shooting for a top finish in the conference. Hassan and Obeng–Akrofi will look to lead the Light Blue in various jumping and sprinting events respectively. Senior Nell Crosby is looking to secure first place in the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase. Last year, she set a personal and school record of 10:02.02, which earned her a position as an All–American. This season, she experienced her top finish at the Virginia Challenge, registering a 10:03.28. This weekend, she will look to improve and break her record.

Ireland is optimistic that both the men and women will be able to impress in a variety of events. He notes that the Lions typically reach their peak performance at the end of the season and expects the athletes’ health and the warm weather to benefit the Light Blue.

“Traditionally we’ve performed our best at this point in the year, as far as scoring points, showing up, competing hard, and having good results,” Ireland said. “We’re excited; the weather’s good; people are healthy, and that usually means good things. Now, it’s just about showing up this weekend and getting it done.”

The Ivy League Heptagonal Championships will kick off at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning in Philadelphia.

alexander.brett@columbiaspectator.com | @CUSpecSports

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