The track and field team’s outdoor season began with a program record, three victories, and a chance for the athletes to stretch their legs in competition for the first time in a month.
The Lions sent six runners to the Stanford Invitational with the primary goal of racking up a regional qualifying time in the 5,000 meters. Junior Waverly Neer, who was held back for much of the last few months due to injury, returned in full force and set a program record. In a field with several non-collegiate runners, she finished ninth in 15:37.85—19 seconds faster than Columbia’s previous 5,000 record.
Most of the team, though, headed to Princeton for the Sam Howell Invitational. In the men’s 5,000, senior standout John Gregorek won in 14:12.48, while seniors Nico Composto and Jake Sienko, who were anchors of the Ivy-winning cross country season but sat out the indoor track season, followed in third and fourth.
Senior Chelsea Carrick, who also took the indoor season off, won the women’s 3,000, and, to no one’s surprise, senior Marvellous Iheukwumere continued her dominance in the 200, finishing in 24.08, just 0.06 seconds off her indoor record.
“The outdoor season is more quality-based, while the indoor season is probably more quantity-based,” Light Blue assistant coach Reuben Jones said before the meets. “We’re doing a lot of quality work in practice and a lot of quality racing in meets, and everything else that fills in around that will be more for preparing for the quality stuff.”