Marvellous Iheukwumere always makes it look easy. The senior hits the boards at the end of the 60-meter dash with a kick in her step, then turns around and waits for her time, barely out of breath. Friday was no exception, as she won the 60 and the 200—and while she said she's pleased, she added that she knows there's more to do.
“I feel good. It was relatively easy to execute,” she said after the 200, which she ran in a personal-best time of 24.02. But she quickly added, “It was really frustrating about the 60, just because I haven't been able to drop my time back to the [best] time I dropped. I kind of use that as fuel. But I'm still working on that 200, there's a lot of room for improvement.”
The same is true of most of the track and field team. Facing a decidedly less competitive field than they had planned this weekend, the Lions looked sharp on the track on Friday evening, but they've still got a few seconds to shave off across the board before nationals.
Canceled flights kept the Light Blue from joining the country's top runners at the Iowa State Classic, but the athletes regrouped and posted solid times, if not their best, at the Armory for the Lafayette-Rider Classic.
“The depth, the quality of the meet wasn't that great, but I thought we competed very well,” head coach Willy Wood said. “I'm very pleased."
Junior Dan Everett won the mile in 4:02.16, helped by former All-American Kyle Merber, CC '12, who rabbited the race for the first 650 meters. Like Iheukwumere, Everett said he was content with the win—but not satisfied.
“When you're coming in with a goal of sub-4 and when you think it's legitimately possible, to not break it is definitely heartbreaking, especially since I've been knocking on the door for about three years now,” he said.
With Merber trying to replicate the competition he would have had in Iowa and Wood shouting his splits every lap, Everett was hyperconscious of his performance.
“It's probably the most stressful feeling, 200 meters to go and knowing you have to run a 29-second, 30-second lap,” Everett said. “It's happened three times for me now, and I'm pretty much right on pace, and then I'm just not able to dip under.”
He won't run the mile again in competition for at least three weeks. “It's nice to take some time and rethink,” he said. “It was very frustrating today. I'll refocus a bit in training.”
Other usual suspects turned in strong performances for the Light Blue. Columbia, led by seniors Harry McFann—who set a new personal record—and Trina Bills, took four of the top five spots in the men's 800 and four of the top six in the women's 800. Sophomore Jaycee Parker broke her PR in the 200, and the team learned from last week's 4x4 and moved Parker to anchor, where she eked out the win over Maryland.
In the field, the women took the top three spots in the triple jump, with junior Nadia Eke way out in front. And junior Joanna Koronios made a big leap up in the rankings, taking third in the weight throw.
The meet also marked the return of junior Waverly Neer, who was sidelined by an Achilles injury the whole season. She led the 3,000 meters from start to finish, winning in 9:26. It's 18 seconds behind her personal best, but it still puts her time at second in the Ivy League.
“I'm happy with it,” Neer said after her cooldown. “My plan was just to get a time to enter for Heps, to get back on the track, to get the cobwebs out a little bit.”
On Saturday, the Armory will be jam-packed for the high-profile Millrose Games, as senior John Gregorek runs the Wanamaker Mile, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.