by Robert Johnson
October 26, 2013
The men’s 2013 Ivy League/Heptagonal Championships take place next Saturday, November 2nd at Princeton.
As a former coach in the league for 10 years, I figured I should preview the meet’s action. So go ahead and send this to your mom or dad so they can know what to expect. I always asked my mom, “How did you know if what we ran in cross-country was good, as some meets top 10 is good and in others top 100 is good?” The reply? “Well, I just looked at your face.”
So mom and dad won’t have to look at your face after reading this.
The meet really is a tale of two halves. There are four very strong teams in defending champion Princeton, Columbia, Harvard and Dartmouth that are or have been nationally ranked at some point this season.
Then there are four others who barring a TOTAL catastrophe from the top four will be battling it out for at best fifth – Yale, Cornell, Penn and Brown. There is a very large gap between the top four and bottom four. Heading into Pre-Nats weekend, on paper, Harvard looked like the #4 choice (now they look like #3, more on that later) and Yale #5. Well, guess what? Harvard raced Yale earlier this year and Harvard skunked Yale by going 1-2-3-4-5 in the 100th Harvard-Yale clash. Last week, Princeton raced Yale, Cornell and Penn at Pre-Nats and they put four in before the any of the other teams even had one in and Brown on paper is worse than Yale, Penn or Cornell.
The Big Four Is Really The Big Two
Currently in the national rankings, Columbia is #10, Princeton #15, Harvard #21 and Dartmouth is unranked but receiving a vote, meaning they are sort of unofficially #39.
I’ll be shocked if this meet doesn’t end up with Princeton and Columbia up top. They likely will go 1-2 in some order, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been following the league in recent years, as it will be the fifth time in six years that they have gone 1-2 in some order and sixth time in the last eight years. With Columbia putting nearly all of their resources on the men’s side into mid-d and distance runners and with Princeton’s incredible name, facilities and support of track/XC resulting in blue-chip recruiting class after blue-chip class (I’m not sure what it’s like this year, but one year a few years ago Princeton had 7 sub-9 guys on its roster), it’s become very hard for anyone else to break them up at the top unless they have a really good year and Princeton or Columbia falters a bit. It’s similar to the Princeton-Cornell situation on the men’s side in track – it takes a near miracle to break that up for the other teams, although it’s considerably easier to do it in XC with five scorers.
Princeton Or Columbia For #1?
Casual observers who see the national rankings and realize that Columbia and Princeton raced at Notre Dame at the beginning of October and Columbia beat Princeton (Columbia won with 113 points, Princeton third with 147) may think the race is Columbia’s to lose.
I certainly don’t view Columbia as the big favorite. I’m not sure if I even view them as the favorites. After they beat Princeton at Notre Dame, I went ahead and took out the runners from the other schools and scored the meet as a dual meet. Here are the results.
Notre Dame Scored As A Dual Meet
Princeton 28 – 1,2,6, 8, 11
Columbia 28 – 3, 4, 5, 7, 9
Place Name Year Team Time
1 Udland, Tyler SR-4 Princeton 24:38.8
2 Bendtsen, Chris SR-4 Princeton 24:40.4
3 Composto, Nico SR-4 Columbia 24:41.6
4 Sienko, Jake SR-4 Columbia 24:42.0
5 Everett, Daniel JR-3 Columbia 24:42.7
6 McDonald, Matt JR-3 Princeton 24:50.7
7 Gregorek, John SR-4 Columbia 24:53.0
8 Pons, Sam JR-3 Princeton 24:54.7
9 Boyle, Jack FR-1 Columbia 25:15.1
10 Golestan, Ben SO-2 Columbia 25:26.5
11 Arroyo-Yamin, Alejandro SR-4 Princeton 25:34.1
28-28. Are you kidding me? Wow.
Right after seeing that my first thought was, “Déjà vu. Here we go again. Columbia’s going to go into Heps as the favorite but watch out for Princeton because Princeton put two ahead of Columbia’s first and who would you rather be relying on at #5 – a freshman or a senior like Arroyo-Yamin, who was second at Heps last year and has been a star for four years?”
Also consider this: In our weekly recaps, we love to strip away the names from runners and compare them so you aren’t biased. So I’ve done just that. Here are the top 5 of Columbia and Princeton from Notre Dame lined up against each other on paper. You tell me which team you’d rather have.
Team A Vs. Team B
Runner #1: Sr. 14:05/29:39 – 4th at Heps last year.
Runner #2: Sr. 13:57/29:32 – Won Heps last year.
Runner #3: Jr. 14:28 – 14th at Heps last year.
Runner #4: Jr. 14:14 – 50th at Heps last year.
Runner #5: Sr. 14:02/29:27 – 2nd at Heps last year.
On The Bench:
Jr. 8:53 steeple – 12th Heps last year
Runner #1: 14:14/29:42 – 33rd at Heps last year
Runner #2: Sr. 14:20/29:20 – 13th last year
Runner #3: Jr. 4:00 mile/13:57 – 16th last year
Runner #4: Sr. 8:52 steeple – 40th last year
Runner #5: Freshman – 8:50s in high school.
On The Bench:
So. 9:20 steeple – 25th last year.
Team ATeam A
Most people would say Team A.
Team A is Princeton (Tyler Udland, Chris Bendsten, Matt McDonald, Sam Pons, and Alejandro Arroyo-Yamin with Eddie Owens on the bench) and Team B is Columbia (Nico Composto, Jake Sienko, Daniel Everett, John Gregorek and Jack Boyle with Ben Golestan on the bench).
Also, does anyone remember last year? Columbia went in ranked #10. Princeton was #23 and the Tigers proceeded to put on an clinic on how to dominate a cross-country meet as they left with a 26 to 58 victory. In track, outdoors, Princeton did more of the same. They crushed everyone outdoors in the 5,000 and 10,000 as they had three juniors score in both of the long races.
On Paper Based On Last Year’s Results, There Is No Reason To Run The Race
Based on last year’s results in XC and on the track, this race shouldn’t even be close. Princeton should dominate. The fact that Columbia is even being mentioned as a potential winner is a testament to how well Willy Wood‘s (Columbia coach) guys have been running so far this year.
When I was coaching, on the bus ride back to Ithaca, NY from Heps each year, I always started to think, “Okay, what’s going to happen next year?”
I then would get out a pen and scratch out all of the seniors and re-score the meet for the next year. It’s not a perfect way to predict things, particularly if there are a few key injuries (I’d normally manually add in a total stud that I knew was out), but it works pretty well.
Here’s what you get when you do that with last year’s results.
Returning Non-Seniors From Last Year’s Meet
Princeton 19 – 1, 2, 3, 5, 8
Columbia 74 – 9, 11, 14, 17, 23
Dartmouth 80 – 4, 12, 16, 21, 27
Harvard 104 – 13, 15, 18, 22, 36
Yale 134 – 6, 24, 32, 35, 37
Cornell 134 – 7, 20, 30, 38, 39
Penn 174 – 19, 25, 28, 49, 53
Brown 215 – 33, 40, 44, 48, 50
(You can see the full results showing the individuals at the bottom of this article)
Now, the meet is run for a reason. They don’t score it on paper. If the meet was scored on paper, there would be no reason to hold a Heps, as Princeton would be handed the XC trophy nearly every year.
The Battle For Third Between Dartmouth And Harvard
In recent years, Dartmouth has more often than not been the third place team at Heps behind Princeton and Columbia (three out of the last four years). This year, at Paul Short, they beat Harvard 106 to 167, but at Wisconsin, Harvard turned the tables on them and beat Dartmouth by scoring 391 to Dartmouth’s 536.
Harvard has potentially the best top two on paper in the league in James Leakos and Maksim Korolev, but these two guys might be the most inconsistent runners in recent Heps history. Last year, neither was in the top 18 at Heps (Leakos was 19th and Korolev cratered and went from 2nd to 22nd in the last 600). But then two weeks later, they both qualified individually for NCAAs. Then a week later they totally bombed at NCAAs as Korolev was 201st and Leakos was a DNF.
This year, Leakos won the Paul Short run and Korolev was second at Wisconsin. But Korolev’s incredible run at Wisco only proves my point about how inconsistent he is. At Paul Short, he was a minute behind Leakos. At Wisconsin, he was 19 seconds ahead.
I just looked up the stats for Korolev and Leakos. They are even more unbelievably inconsistent than I remembered. Maybe I should amend what I wrote earlier and label them as perhaps the most inconsistent guys in all of the NCAA. Watching Korolev run is like watching Alan Webb – you just don’t know what you are going to get but you gotta watch.
What I forgot was Korolev did the same thing in track. He didn’t score at Heps outdoors, then made NCAAs in the 10,000 and then ran 33:55 at NCAAs. Yes, 33:55. Cornell’s Katie Kellner ran faster than that (33:45) in a tactical woman’s 10,000. As for Leakos – well, he also didn’t score at Heps despite having run 13:57 during the season.
Based on how they’ve been running so far this year, these guys should both be locks for the top 5 (they actually could go 1-2) – certainly top 10 – at Heps and if you do that, they will be hard for Dartmouth to beat for third.
The good news for Harvard is I can’t imagine they finish worse than fourth unless Leakos and Korolev are both DNFs. And here’s a GREAT stat for you. Guess when the last time the Harvard men were top 4 at Heps Cross-Country?
Guess again. I’m certain your guess is wrong. It way pre-dates Jason Saretsky, who is now in his eighth year at the helm at Harvard.
Now that’s pretty incredible, isn’t it?
I just had to throw that one in there for my brother and dad, who are Yale alums, but just to show I’m not biased, I’ll remind people that teams can put two in the top five and still not get top three. Yale’s done it twice since I started paying attention to the league. The year after my brother Weldon stopped competing for Yale, 1996, Yale’s Chris Gansen and Pat McMurray (Pat, if you are reading this, I think I still owe you a wedding gift from ten-plus years ago) went 3-4 and the team was fourth. Then in 2004, Yale’s Lucas Meyer and Casey Moriarity went 2-4 but Yale was only fifth.
Who Gets Fifth?
Speaking of Yale, they aren’t close to Harvard, as Harvard went 1-5 on them in their dual meet, but they likely will be fifth at Heps as they beat both Cornell and Penn at Pre-Nats and Brown is the eighth team on paper (Penn killed Brown at Paul Short by putting four before Brown had two in).
The good news for Yale fans is they are young.
In fact, if you are a fan of the bottom four teams, there is some good news for all of you as I’ve already started to think about 2014. The top teams lose a lot up front. Looking at the last meet, here’s how the teams stack up class-wise:
Columbia has three seniors in its top 5.
Princeton has three seniors in its top 5.
Harvard’s two stars are both seniors.
Dartmouth has four seniors in its top 5.
Yale has no seniors and only one junior in its top 5.
Cornell has no seniors and only one junior in its top 5.
Penn has one senior and only one junior in its top 5.
Brown has one senior (but three juniors) in its top 5.
That being said, there is a big divide between the bottom four and top four, so the graduation of a few guys isn’t going to just automatically catapult you up. You don’t contend for Heps titles by moving guys from up from the 40 to the 20s. You win it by putting five guys in the top 20, and most of the guys finishing below 40 this year will likely never be top 20 at Heps.
|Heps Teams Scored Separately At Wisco|
Columbia 28 – 3, 4, 5, 6, 10
Harvard 39 – 1, 2, 7, 14, 15
Dartmouth 53 – 8, 9, 11, 12, 13
Heps Teams Scored Separately At Pre-Nats
Princeton 18 – 1, 2, 3, 4, 8
Yale 56 – 6, 7, 11, 12, 20 4
Cornell 72 – 9, 13, 15, 17, 18
Penn 83 – 5, 16, 19, 21, 22
1. Princeton – If Eddie Owens was running as well as he did last year, I’d be a lot more confident in their chances. With their firepower up front, they should win, particularly if they bring it like they did last year at Heps XC and Heps outdoor track, but if someone has an off day, they don’t have a lot of backup.
2. Columbia – Close yet again. They may be the favorites for 2014, though, as Princeton loses a lot, and it will be interesting to see how the Princeton dynasty holds up the more removed they are from the Donn Cabral/Brian Leung era.
3. Harvard – 2013 is a great year for Boston sports teams. Welcome to the top four for the first time in 20 years.
4. Dartmouth – Dartmouth often rises to the occasion at Heps but Harvard seems too loaded up front.
5. Yale – I’m probably most confident in this pick and #8.
6. Cornell – My beloved former team ran way better than predicted at Heps last year to get fourth and only 6 points out of third, but injuries to key seniors have hurt them so far this year. 4:02 miler John Schilkowsky is still out after missing outdoors last year and 14:15 5,000 man Max Groves has only finished one race this year.
7. Penn – Give Steve Dolan at least five years to build the team. This is only year #2. Props to Connor Paez, who is doing great this fall in his comeback from his motorcycle accident. He’s gone from 4:14 for 1,500 last spring to 25:03 at Paul Short. Could place sixth if they get a real low score by Awad, as these other teams don’t seem to have any potential low sticks.
8. Brown – Someone has to finish last. Bears, take solace in the fact that the Heps is often the deepest conference in the country.
I feel very confident in those team picks. It’s scary how those basically mimic the “remove the seniors” list from last year. I’d be VERY surprised if any of the teams finish more than one spot off of where they are placed. It makes me miss the days before the Internet when more than half the teams went to Heps probably thinking they had a chance to win it as so little info was known about everyone. Take 1995. A good friend of LetsRun, who was a captain of a men’s team that year, took a bottle of champagne to the meet convinced his team would emerge as the champions even though they didn’t finish in the top 4.
Leakos and Korolev from Harvard may have an advantage in the fact that the Princeton and Columbia guys may want to play it conservative to pack up and run for the team title. It would be incredibly cool just from a personal redemption story to see them go 1-2.
They might go 1-2 no matter what happens. At Paul Short, Leakos was 33 seconds better than the second Ivy League finisher (Dartmouth’s Geoghegan). At Wisconsin, Korolev was the top Ivy League finisher by 19 seconds. The second Ivy guy was Leakos, who was still 20 seconds ahead of the next Ivy League finisher (Sienko of Columbia).
Top 11 Individual Predictions
1) Korolev – H
2) Leakos – H
3) Bendsten – Pr
4) Udland – Pr
5) Everett – Col
6) Sienko – Col
7) Gregorek – Col
8) Bleday – D
9) Arroyo-Yamin – Pr
10) Pons – Pr
11) Geoghegan – D
One thing worth noting if you look at the individual returners below is that only five of the top 15 graduated from last year (seniors normally take a more of the top spots at Heps). So there will be a number of top guys this year who are finishing worse than they did last year. That mentally can wear on someone. When you gear up for a big senior year, you envision training hard to win it, not finish eighth. How some guys handle that may determine the team battle.
Oh yeah, please show this to your mom, dad and teammates as well.
|Returning Points From Last Year’s Heps|
|Princeton 1, 2, 3, 5, 8||19|
|Columbia 9, 11, 14, 17, 23||74|
|Dartmouth 4, 12, 16, 21, 27||80|
|Harvard 13, 15, 18, 22, 36||104|
|Yale 6, 24, 32, 35, 37||134|
|Cornell 7, 20, 30, 38, 39||134|
|Penn 19, 25, 28, 49, 53||174|
|Brown 33, 40, 44, 48, 50||215|
|PLACE PTS NAME YR TEAM TIME PACE|
|1||1 1 Chris Bendtsen JR Princeton 23:41.8 4:47|
|2||2 2 Alejandro Arroyo Yamin JR Princeton 23:48.1 4:48|
|3 3 Leighton Spencer SR Columbia 23:50.6 4:48|
|3||4 4 Tyler Udland JR Princeton 23:51.3 4:48|
|4||5 5 Will Geoghegan JR Dartmouth 23:54.2 4:49|
|6 6 Phil Royer SR Dartmouth 23:57.6 4:50|
|5||7 7 Jonathan Vitez JR Princeton 23:57.8 4:50|
|8 8 Mike Murphy SR Columbia 23:59.3 4:50|
|6||10 10 Matt Nussbaum SO Yale 24:05.0 4:51|
|7||11 11 Max Groves JR Cornell 24:06.1 4:51|
|8||12 12 Eddie Owens SO Princeton 24:06.6 4:51|
|9||13 13 Jake Sienko JR Columbia 24:12.5 4:53|
|10||14 14 Matt McDonald SO Princeton 24:13.0 4:53|
|15 15 Brett Kelly SR Cornell 24:13.1 4:53|
|11||16 16 Daniel Everett SO Columbia 24:14.3 4:53|
|12||17 17 Steve Mangan JR Dartmouth 24:14.8 4:53|
|18 18 Ben Veilleux SR Columbia 24:16.0 4:53|
|13||19 19 James Leakos JR Harvard 24:16.6 4:53|
|20 20 Matt McCullough SR Cornell 24:17.5 4:54|
|14||21 21 Byron Jones JR Columbia 24:23.8 4:55|
|15||22 22 Maksim Korolev JR Harvard 24:24.3 4:55|
|16||23 23 Dylan O’Sullivan SO Dartmouth 24:25.6 4:55|
|24 24 Mark Feigen SR Columbia 24:25.8 4:55|
|17||25 Ben Golestan FR Columbia 24:27.6 4:56|
|18||26 25 Tom Purnell FR Harvard 24:29.8 4:56|
|27 26 Jonathan Gault SR Dartmouth 24:30.3 4:56|
|19||28 27 Brendan Smith FR Penn 24:30.3 4:56|
|20||29 28 John Schilkowsky JR Cornell 24:31.8 4:57|
|21||30 29 Curtis King FR Dartmouth 24:32.3 4:57|
|22||31 30 Kurt Ruegg JR Harvard 24:35.3 4:57|
|32 31 Conor Grogan SR Brown 24:38.5 4:58|
|23||33 Nico Composto JR Columbia 24:40.3 4:58|
|34 Steve Iglehart SR Columbia 24:41.5 4:59|
|24||35 32 Alexander Conner FR Yale 24:42.1 4:59|
|25||36 33 Thomas Awad FR Penn 24:44.8 4:59|
|37 34 Kevin Lunn SR Yale 24:46.8 5:00|
|39 36 Michael Kiley SR Penn 24:49.3 5:00|
|26||40 John Gregorek JR Columbia 24:49.3 5:00|
|27||41 37 Henry Sterling JR Dartmouth 24:49.3 5:00|
|42 38 Jakob Lindaas SR Harvard 24:50.3 5:00|
|28||43 39 Brandon Clark FR Penn 24:52.3 5:01|
|44 40 Tim Hillas SR Yale 24:53.6 5:01|
|29||45 Silas Talbot SO Dartmouth 24:56.8 5:02|
|30||46 41 Ben Potts SO Cornell 24:57.1 5:02|
|31||47 Brian Masterson FR Dartmouth 24:57.6 5:02|
|32||48 42 Isa Qasim SO Yale 24:58.3 5:02|
|33||49 43 Brendan Boyle JR Brown 24:59.0 5:02|
|34||50 44 Sam Pons SO Princeton 25:00.1 5:02|
|51 Adam Doherty SR Dartmouth 25:00.1 5:02|
|52 45 Austin Snyder SR Brown 25:01.0 5:02|
|53 Max Kaulbach SR Princeton 25:03.1 5:03|
|54 Mike Danaher SR Dartmouth 25:03.8 5:03|
|35||55 46 John McGowan SO Yale 25:09.8 5:04|
|36||56 47 Dan Milechman FR Harvard 25:10.6 5:04|
|37||57 48 Kevin Dooney FR Yale 25:16.1 5:05|
|E||58 Sam Berger FR Princeton 25:16.3 5:06|
|38||59 49 Ben Rainero FR Cornell 25:16.6 5:06|
|60 Demetri Goutos SR Yale 25:16.8 5:06|
|39||61 Tyler Eustance SO Cornell 25:18.1 5:06|
|62 Matt Thwaites SR Yale 25:18.6 5:06|
|63 50 Kevin Foy SR Penn 25:19.1 5:06|
|40||64 51 Ned Willig FR Brown 25:20.1 5:06|
|41||65 Andrew Herring JR Cornell 25:23.3 5:07|
|E||66 David Pugliese FR Princeton 25:23.8 5:07|
|42||67 Will Geiken SO Harvard 25:24.1 5:07|
|43||68 Connor Herr FR Cornell 25:25.1 5:07|
|69 52 George Dickson SR Penn 25:29.3 5:08|
|44||70 Mark McGurrin SO Brown 25:31.3 5:09|
|45||71 Ryan Laemel JR Yale 25:33.3 5:09|
|46||72 Andy Gonzalez SO Harvard 25:35.1 5:09|
|47||73 Michael Cunetta JR Yale 25:36.9 5:10|
|48||74 Jeff Bush JR Brown 25:40.0 5:10|
|E||75 Brian Eimstad FR Cornell 25:40.6 5:10|
|E||76 Lukas Gemar FR Harvard 25:43.1 5:11|
|49||77 Connor Jaramillo SO Penn 25:43.8 5:11|
|E||78 Michael Sublette FR Princeton 25:44.6 5:11|
|79 56 Kevin Cooper SR Brown 25:54.5 5:13|
|50||80 Colin Savage JR Brown 25:59.1 5:14|
|51||81 Will Sheeran FR Brown 26:02.8 5:15|
|52||82 Kyler Evitt JR Brown 26:03.0 5:15|
|E||83 Jacob Sandry SO Yale 26:05.1 5:15|
|E||84 Sean Pohorence SR Harvard 26:05.5 5:15|
|E||85 Chris Allen FR Harvard 26:09.6 5:16|
|53||86 John Foye JR Penn 26:13.5 5:17|
|54||87 John Trueman SO Penn 26:21.3 5:19|
|E||88 Ben Stephenson SR Brown 26:34.1 5:21|
|55||89 Dustin Wilson FR Columbia 27:12.8 5:29|