There’s a frenzy to a track and field meet that most other sports don’t have. Rarely is the attention of the cavernous room of spectators directed in one place. While the 3,000-meter runners complete yet another lap in that seemingly never-ending race, a parade of pole-vaulters are leaping into the air inside the track ring, and the weight throwers are hurling a 35-pound ball at the far end of the building.
For fans of the Light Blue track and field team, there will be a lot of different places to look this Saturday, as 68 players on the 93-person roster will be running, jumping, and throwing in the annual Columbia Invitational. They’ll go up against eight other teams, including Penn and Princeton.
Head coach Willy Wood said before last week’s NYU Team Challenge that he was holding some of his top players back—or having others run secondary events to work on their agility—in preparation for this weekend’s meet, which the team considers the first big one of the season. For instance, a whopping 17 Columbia men will run in the mile Saturday, whereas only first-years Jonah Hanig and Jack Macauley competed last weekend.
The race will include senior John Gregorek and juniors Daniel Everett and Brendon Fish, who Wood said at the start of the season was one of the runners he expected to break four minutes.
Other races to watch include the women’s 60-meter dash—in which senior Marvellous Iheukwumere set a school record last week at 7.46 seconds, and in which sophomores Ashley Cunningham and Iris Chijioke were not far behind in third and fourth—and the women’s 800-meter. Senior Trina Bills holds a school record in that race, and will be competing in it for the first time this season.
But for all the talk of records and times, the Lions just want to come home with a win at their own invitational.
“Our coach is always telling us, ‘Don’t be a slave to time,’” Iheukwumere said after last week’s meet. “I think that’s really important. It’s all about going out there, having fun, and competing.”
“This is the biggest mid-D [middle-distance] program we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Bills said. “Our goal is just to get people into the finals.”
The action begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Armory.