With just a week until Heps, the track and field coaches are feeling a sense of cautious optimism about their roster.
In their suite offices on Thursday, assistant coach Ben Waruch gave a plug for senior Duncan Dickerson, who is leading in the hammer throw by a whopping two meters.
“I’m not guaranteeing he’s going to win, but…” Waruch said.
“You’re not guaranteeing it?” head coach Willy Wood asked in jest.
“Are you guaranteeing [senior] John Gregorek is going to win?” Waruch responded.
“Yeah, actually,” Wood said, grinning.
“Alright, fine, I’ll guarantee it,” Waruch said.
Whether Dickerson and Gregorek victories are guaranteed or not, the team will head into the final meet before the Ivy League Championships with a handful of athletes who will almost surely finish in the top three and earn a berth at regionals, and an even greater number at the margin, looking to hang on to their regional qualifying times.
About two-thirds of the team will compete at the Elite Meet at Princeton this weekend, using it as a final tune-up.
“Anybody we thought there was a strong indication they would hit the [NCAA regional] standard has done so already,” Wood said. “We don’t really have anybody in trouble that we consider a likely shot to make it. We have a few people who are still on the bubble, and they’ll need to have a better performance to make it.”
Those athletes’ chance to advance to NCAA East Regionals on May 29 will come this weekend, at Heps, or at IC4As the week after. The top 48 in each event from the East and West will compete there, and the top 12 will advance to nationals on June 11.
This weekend, Wood is most interested in watching the 800 and the 1500 meters.
In the former, Wood said, “If a guy goes under 1:50, he’ll definitely make it.” That’s a benchmark that senior Harry McFann first beat three weeks ago, and Wood wants to see juniors Connor Claflin and Brendon Fish make it there too. In the 1500, Wood said he’s hoping to see the men break 3:45 and the women 4:24.
Senior Marvellous Iheukwumere is “well on her way back” from an injury, Wood said, but it’s still uncertain if she’ll race Saturday.
“Obviously, that’s critical for us, because she could win both the 100 and 200, and she runs in the 4x1, so we need her back,” Wood said.
But the team has stepped up without her—the 4x200 team, sans Iheukwumere, broke the program record in the event at Penn Relays last week.
The Elite Meet begins at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Princeton, New Jersey.