Track and field teams take sixth and eighth place at Ivy Heps

by Emily Lu | 3/6/20 2:00am

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The Big Green finally got its chance to compete at indoor Heps this weekend after counting down all season.
Source: Emily Lu

Since the start of the season, a digital countdown clock had been running inside Leverone Field House, showing the exact number of days, hours, minutes and even seconds until the 2020 Ivy League Indoor Heptagonal Championships meet. The countdown hit zero this weekend as both the men’s and women’s track and field teams traveled to Cornell University to compete at Heps, finishing in sixth and last place, respectively.

“The men’s team’s result was probably okay; the women’s team’s result was probably on the disappointing side,” said men’s head coach Barry Harwick ’77. “The Ivy League is an incredibly strong conference in the sport of track and field, so I think everyone approached it with the idea that they were going to be challenged. They worked very hard to make sure they were ready to put their best effort there.”

While competing, every Big Green athlete donned a black ribbon on their singlet in honor of women’s track and field head coach Sandy Ford-Centonze, who passed away in December after battling cancer. Ford-Centonze coached the women’s team for 28 seasons and was also honored by the Ivy League before the award ceremony on Sunday. 

“It was definitely an emotional meet for that reason,” said Cha’Mia Rothwell ’20. “We wanted to do well and have her in our hearts and our minds — just to have her presence be felt at that meet. We all went into it kind of wanting to respect her and honor her legacy.” 

The first day of Heps featured fewer scored events; for the most part, athletes competed first in a preliminary round on Saturday in hopes of placing in the top eight of their events to qualify for finals on Sunday. 

The women’s team earned points in all five events on Saturday to finish the day in seventh. Lily Lockhart ’21 earned the most points with a fourth-place finish in the weight throw, while Rothwell snagged fifth in the long jump. Pole vaulter Julia Valenti ’20, a two-time defending champion, was unable to three-peat and tied for fifth. Both Lauren Sapone ’20 and Anoush Krafian ’22 finished sixth in their respective events of the 3000m run and the pentathlon. 

The men’s team only scored a point on Saturday after Corbin Mayes ’21 took sixth in the pole vault. Tim Zepf ’21’s time of 1:52.46 in the 800m made him the top qualifier, while Donovan Spearman ’21 finished just one-hundreth of a second back in the 60m.

Ahead of the finals on Sunday, five members of the women’s team came down with cases of food poisoning, according to Harwick. He said some of the athletes had to be taken to the hospital for IV drips. 

“Obviously being that it was out of our control, everyone was just trying to deal with the situation, and people were still going out there competing even though they didn’t feel well,” Rothwell said. “I think it just shows the grit that people had in not wanting to back down even though we did have an unfortunate food poisoning breakout.” 

Rothwell dominated on the second day of Heps by winning the 60m hurdle event for the fourth year in a row, joining only two other women in the Ivy League who have accomplished the same feat. Her time of 8.31 seconds was her best of the season, propelling her to her sixth Heps indoor championship overall.

“This is the kind of race where one little thing coming out of the blocks incorrectly or clipping one hurdle can blow the whole thing up, and when you’re the defending champion, there’s a lot of people looking at you,” Harwick said. “To win the hurdles for the fourth time really indicates to me what a tremendous competitor she is.” 

The Big Green earned additional points through third-place finishes from both Camille Landon ’21 in the high jump and Claire Dougherty ’20 in the 800m run. In the 4x800m relay, Lauren Archer ’20, Dougherty, Arianna Gragg ’22 and Anya Hirschfeld ’23 captured fourth. Breanna Glover ’22 and Kathryn Laskoski ’21 each scored a point by placing sixth in their respective events in the mile and the 500m run. The distance medley team of Glover, Danielle Okonta ’20, Lauren Sapone ’20 and Meg Tuthill ’20 also finished sixth. 

After sitting in last place on Saturday, the men’s team rallied back behind top finishes in several different events to earn sixth overall. Zepf improved on his time from Saturday, winning the 800m title with a time of 1:51.10 after just coming up short the last two seasons in second place. 

“My plan was really just to take the lead from the gun and run as fast as I could for 800 meters,” Zepf said. “I was super excited; all the work that me and my teammates and coaches have put in all year — it felt like I had finally put it together.”

Joining Zepf in the 800m was teammate Will Baginski ’23, who placed fourth. The Big Green had a strong showing in some of the sprinting events; Spearman took second while Myles Epstein ’23 placed sixth in the 60m. Epstein also nabbed a fifth-place finish in the 200m run. 

The men’s team had three fourth-place finishers in individual events: Max Frye ’21 in the 500m, Thomas Lingard ’22 in the 1000m and Quin Cooney TH in the 5000m. Henry Raymond ’20 added a point by getting sixth in the mile. Toward the end of the meet, the Big Green captured more points thanks to a fourth-place finish for the 4x400m group (MJ Farber ’21, Frye, Julian Martelly ’23 and Charles Wade ’22) and fifth place in the 4x800m team (Baginski, Nicholas Feffer ’21, Raymond and Zepf).

The teams have a short break following indoor Heps, but soon the countdown clock in Leverone Field House will have to be reset; outdoor Heps are just around the corner in May.