Rothwell and Valenti defend titles as women take third at Indoor Heps, men sixth

by Osezele Okoruwa | 2/27/19 2:00am


Eighty-four days – that’s the length of time between the start of indoor track and field season and Sunday’s Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track and Field Championships, the end of the indoor campaign for virtually all Big Green athletes. Then in a few short weeks, it all starts again.

In what finished as a mixed weekend for Dartmouth, with the women’s team taking third overall and the men’s team finishing sixth, two Big Green athletes performed like they’d been there before — because they had. Julia Valenti ’20 repeated as women’s pole vault champion, while Cha’Mia Rothwell ’20 took first in the women’s 60-meter hurdles, a title she has won in all three of her Ivy League seasons.

For Rothwell, who noted that her 60-m hurdles time of 8.37 was slower than her winning marks the past two seasons, the race was special because it marked her comeback from a hand injury suffered during the fall.

“I was in a situation where getting in shape physically and mentally was really challenging,” she said.

The North Carolina native has been accustomed to success since she arrived in Hanover. The winner of the indoor long jump each of her first two seasons, including a 6.27-meter jump in 2018 that was the third-best in Ivy League history, Rothwell jumped 5.85 meters this year and settled for third.

Valenti, meanwhile, has grown into her position as the Ivy League’s top indoor pole vaulter. After tying for third in her first season with a leap of 3.85 meters, she soared 4.05 meters in 2018 to win the event outright. Princeton University first-year Hanne Borstlap made Valenti work for this year’s title, as each cleared 3.91 meters but could not make it over the bar at 4.01 meters. Because Valenti cleared 3.91 meters on her first flight, she brought home the title for Dartmouth.

While the Big Green women were first after the meet’s first day, getting additional points from Maria Garman ’19 and Anoush Krafian ’22 in the pentathlon and Amelia Ali ’19 and Lily Lockhart ’21 in the weight throw, the men failed to score a single point.

“We had a lot of injuries going in,” head coach Barry Harwick said. “We had a rough day first day but did very, very well the second.”

In a meet that mile runner Reed Horton ’19 described as “kind of fluky,” the team rallied to sixth place on Sunday, buoyed by podium performances from Tim Zepf ’21 and Donovan Spearman ’21. Zepf finished the 800-meter run in a time of 1:50.61 to earn second place, less than a second back of Harvard University’s Myles Marshall. Later in the day, Zepf anchored the 4x880-yard relay team that edged out Princeton for second place.

Spearman chalked up 12 points for the Big Green with third-place finishes in the 200-meter dash and the 60-meter dash.

After becoming Dartmouth’s second all-time 60-meter sprinter with a time of 6.82 seconds in January of last season, Spearman suffered from multiple nagging injuries. But he looked unhindered as he crossed the line in 6.85 seconds in the Heps final.

“At Heps, [Spearman] had to run four very high intensity events” – the prelims and finals of the 60-m and 200-m dashes – “in about 24 hours, and he did quite well with that,” Harwick said.

The Big Green women eased back to third on Sunday. In addition to Rothwell’s performances in the 60-m hurdles and long jump, Claire Dougherty ’20 finished second in the 800m with a 2:08.79, and Garman tied for second place in the high jump.

Both relay teams delivered the goods on Sunday to help the Dartmouth men claw their way back up the standings. In addition to the Big Green’s second-place finish in the 4x880-yard relay, the 4x440-yard team anchored by Max Frye ’21 finished third.

With Indoor Heps out of the way, Horton’s focus has already shifted to the outdoor season.

“I think it’s going to go really well and we’ll be getting some people back,” he said.

The team will chase warmer weather during spring break meets in Florida and Georgia before returning to the Northeast in April. 

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