The Columbia men’s and women’s cross country teams finished in second and sixth places, respectively, at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on Saturday. The men tallied 58 points, while host No. 23 Princeton had 28 points, giving the Tigers the Ivy title by a margin of 30 points. On the women’s side, No. 7 Cornell claimed the championship in dominant fashion, totaling 31 points for the win. The Light Blue had 116 points.
On the men’s side, eight Lions placed in the top 25 of the 8,000-meter race at Princeton. Senior Leighton Spencer, who took third place behind Princeton juniors Chris Bendtsen and Alejandro Arroyo Yamin, led the squad. Senior Mike Murphy also placed in the top 10, taking eighth place for the Lions. Spencer earned first-team all-Ivy League honors with his personal record time of 23:50.6. Murphy, along with teammate junior Jacob Sienko, who took 13th place, earned second-team all-Ivy League honors with their performances.
Heading into the championships, the men knew they would be battling Princeton for the Ivy title. The Tigers had won the championship in five of the last six years before the Lions disrupted their reign in 2009. Despite the momentum the Light Blue had going into the meet from its impressive performance at Wisconsin, it was not enough to stop Princeton from winning its third consecutive Ivy title.
The women had their own difficulties at the championships. Senior Mallory Anderson led the Light Blue, taking 18th place, with three others Lions rounding out the top 25. Senior Erin Gillingham, junior Caroline Williams, and senior Clare Buck took 23rd, 24th, and 25th places respectively, with times differentiating by one second.
It was a struggle for Columbia to measure up to No. 7 Cornell—the Big Red took the first three places in the 6,000-meter race and four places overall in the top 10. The squad ran without its top two finishers from last year’s race—sophomore Waverly Neer and senior Caroline McDonough—who were both sidelined due to injury. In the absence of two of their first-team all-Ivy athletes, the Lions struggled to keep up with the rest of the Ancient Eight.
The men’s and women’s teams have a one week break before returning to action. Columbia next competes in the 2012 NCAA Northeast Regionals on Nov. 9, where the Lions will face the top squads in the region. On both men’s and women’s sides, the top two teams, in addition to the top four individual runners whose team did not qualify at the NCAA’s nine regional meets, will qualify for the NCAA Championships.