PRINCETON, COLUMBIA EARN HEPS TITLES THANKS TO DISTANCE VICTORIES
By Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

ITHACA, NY (26-Feb) -- With help from middle and long distance victories, the men of Princeton and women of Columbia earned Ivy League Heptagonal titles here today. Princeton's Donn Cabral, Trevor Van Ackeren, and Peter Callahan won the 5000m, 1000m, and 800m, respectively, while Columbia's Waverly Neer took the women's 3000m.

Going into the men's 5000m, Princeton's main focus was the team competition. Leading Cornell by a slim margin, the Tigers wanted to extend their cushion. Numbers were in their favor, as Princeton had five men in the event, while Cornell had none.

"We were really focused on Cornell, trying to edge them in the team battle. What we were trying to do is get as many of our guys into the top six as possible," said Cabral, the eventual winner of the race. Keeping the pace slow early on, the senior was able to break away  with 300m to go, ultimately defending his title in 14:23.67.

"I waited and waited, [keeping the pace like it was] and it ended up paying off, because our guys finished second and fourth," said the senior Cabral. "In events like the distance races, we need to get as many points as we can."

Following Cabral, the Tigers' Chris Bendtsen finished second, while Jonathan Vitez took fourth; in total, 22 points were scored by Princeton in the event. Earlier in the day, Peter Callahan won the 800m in 1:49.72, and Van Ackeren the 1000m in 2:26.08. 89 of the 184 points Princeton scored ended up being earned in the distance disciplines, including the 4x800m and distance medley relay.

"This meet is all about getting tough," said Callahan after his 4:02 split in the distance medley relay. "It's so close every point matters, so I just went out there and tried to pick off as many people as I could, trying to get more points."

The team competition was also on Waverly Neer's mind when she earned Columbia ten points in the 3000m.

"I wanted to contribute to our team's overall score, and I knew finishing high would help the team in the end," said the freshman from Indiana. She did just that, breaking away from Dartmouth's Alexi Pappas with 600m remaining to get her first career Heps title.

"My coaches told me if I was feeling great, go at 800m; if I wasn't feeling so great, go at 600m. I wasn't feeling so great, so I went at 600m, and fortunately it worked out pretty well."

Pappas had led up until then, when Neer began to separate, showing the speed she used earlier in the day to take third in the mile.

"I'm excited my fitness is at a really good level. I haven't done too much speed work yet, so to have a good last 600m was really great," said Neer, who is excited to race the 3000m at the NCAA Championships.

In the women's mile, Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino rebounded from a heartbreaking loss at the line yesterday in the 5000m to take the victory in 4:46.81.

"I didn't want that [loss] to get in my way, so I channeled it, and here we are," said the sophomore who is also qualified for the NCAA Championships 3000m.

The men's mile was won by Columbia's Kyle Merber in 4:21.11. After a pedestrian first half, Merber was able to break from the field down the stretch to win convincingly. He came back later in the day to help the team's distance medley relay, splitting 4:06 unofficially for the win.

Harvard's Meghan Looney took the women's 800m.

ENDS