Track and field struggles at Heps

| 5/11/15 6:01pm

After months of training and preparation, the men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships this past weekend in Philadelphia. After two days of intense competition, the men finished fifth in the team standings with 67 points, while the women finished in seventh with 57.5 points.

At the top of the scorecard, Princeton University won the men’s title with 161 points, and Harvard University took the women’s title with 157 points. While the overall team scores may have left the Big Green off the podium, both received stellar performances, including multiple individual victories on both the men’s and women’s sides.

“The Heps is a very long competition, and the weather conditions were very rough [in Philadelphia],” men’s head coach Barry Harwick said. “But overall, it was a successful meet for us.”

Some of the top finishes included the men receiving a 1-2 finish from Jacob Shippee ’16 and Jim Budzinski ’14 in the javelin. For the women, Dana Giordano ’16 and Kaitlin Whitehorn ’16 both defended their Heps titles from last year. Giordano won the 1,500 meters in 4:19.55, and with her win, the Big Green women have now won the event for four consecutive seasons. Whitehorn also repeated her Heps title, winning the high jump to become the second woman in Dartmouth history to win the women’s high jump twice, as well as in consecutive years.

The men had a strong showing on the first day of competition. On Saturday, in addition to the 1-2 finish in the javelin, Max Cosculluela ’17 placed third in the pole vault in what Harwick called one of the best pole vault finishes in College history, setting a new personal best in the process. Colin Minor ’18 also placed third in the hammer throw.

Later in the evening, Curtis King ’16 claimed second in the 10,000 meters, finishing in 29:51.37 and earning All-Ivy second-team honors. Although he was hoping to return to Hanover a Heps champion, King was pleased with his performance.

“With one lap to go, I took the lead and dropped the pace down significantly,” King said. “I ran my last lap in 59 seconds, which is four seconds faster than any previous final [10,000 meter] lap that I’ve run. But [Princeton’s Matt McDonald] closed in 58.”

The women also saw impressive performances on Saturday with a third-place finish in the javelin from Moriah Morton ’17 and a sixth place finish in the pole vault by Kaitlin McCallum ’16. In the final event, Claudia Pham ’15 placed fifth in the 10,000-meter by running a 35:09.45.

Much of the teams’ scoring, however, took place on the second day of competition. The men received strong performances from Brett Buskey ’15, who placed third in the 100 meters and fifth in the 200 meters, as well as from Jeremy Birck ’15, who placed second in the high jump by clearing 6-9.5/2.07m. Alex Frye ’17 was fifth in the 110-meter hurdles. Edward Wagner ’16 placed fourth in the 400-meter hurdles in 52.34, while Corey Muggler ’17 also placed fourth in the triple jump. His jump of 49-8.5/15.15m was a new personal best, according to Harwick.

“When someone sets a new [personal record] it’s very rewarding to see both for the athletes and the coaches,” Harwick said.

For the women, Allison Frantz ’18 had a strong showing, placing fifth in both the heptathlon and the high jump. Teammate Miranda Lawson ’17 placed sixth in the heptathlon just behind Frantz. Molly Shapiro ’16 was third in the triple jump, while Jennifer Meech ’16 scored in the 200 meters, running 24.27 to take fifth. Reid Watson ’16 placed fourth in the 5,000 meters, completing the distance in 16:52.08.

The women also received strong performances from their relay teams, with the 4x400-meter and 4x100-meter relay teams — both of which women’s head coach Sandy Ford-Centonze said ran their fastest times all season and the second-fastest times in school history — placing fourth, and a fifth-place finish by the 4x800-meter team. The 4x100-meter relay team had to be shuffled last minute, as Anna Kikut ’16 could not compete with a hamstring injury. As a result, the team that competed had not practiced the crucial baton exchanges before racing.

“This is one of those cases where we hold our breath and pray that the exchange happened,” Ford-Centonze said. “They ran well, and it was the fastest time this season and the second-fastest in school history.”

The weather conditions proved to be a major factor throughout the meet. With temperatures in the upper 80s and high humidity, many of the distance races were especially slow. One of runners in the women’s 10,000-meters had to be rushed to the hospital due to heat exhaustion, Harwick said.

With three weeks between Heps and the NCAA Regional Championships in Jacksonville, Florida, many athletes will look to focus on getting qualifying performances to the regional championships and fine-tuning their events.

“Fifty-nine seconds wasn’t good enough for Heps, so it certainly won’t be good enough for Jacksonville,” King said. “It gives me something to work on over the next three weeks.”

Next weekend, the teams will send a contingent, consisting mostly of sprinters and field athletes, down to Princeton, New Jersey, to compete in the ECAC/IC4A Championships. A large group of distance runners will travel to Lowell, Massachusetts, to compete at the New Balance Twilight Meet and chase some fast times in the last weekend to qualify for NCAA Regionals, Harwick said.

The next few weeks will provide a chance to regroup.

“You gear up for it starting in September, and the talk is always Heps,” Ford-Centonze said. “But we have to just move forward — track is a sport of a short memory. You have to forget about it and come back ready for the next one. It’s the nature of the sport.”