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5 Things to Watch: Ivy League Preview

Note: Due to the late release time of the Ivy League entries, the below analysis is only speculation as to what certain athletes will run.

1. Will Tuntivate Repeat Last Year's 3k/5k Double?

At last year’s Ivy League Championships, Harvard distance star Kieran Tuntivate won both the 3000 meters and the 5000 meters in incredible fashion. He lost his shoe early on in the 3000 meters and was still able to take the victory in 8:12. After sustaining some gnarly blisters on his spike-less foot, he came back to shock the conference and win the 5000 meters by over two seconds in 14:25.

This season is pointing in the same direction for Tuntivate, perhaps even more so than last year. He has established huge PR’s in the mile (3:57) and 3k (7:49) and seems to be a heavy favorite to repeat his 3k/5k double gold.

What will most likely be the toughest obstacle for Tuntivate is the ability to close hard in the last 1000 meters in each race (which isn't to say that he's sub-par in that aspect of racing). In the Ivy League especially, the men's races are often tactical, which leads to some variability in the results at certain times. Going out at a more relaxed pace favors a handful of competitors which could uncover a potential challenger to Tuntivate late in the race.

Tuntivate has proven that he has mile speed, but most of his races have been all-out efforts this season. How will he handle a tactical championship meet? This isn't to suggest that anyone is expected to give him any issues this weekend, but seeing how he approaches these races will be a good preview for what to expect at the National Championships in March.

Be on the lookout for other distance athletes such as Princeton’s Viraj Deokar, Ed Trippas and Matt Grossman, as well as Dartmouth’s Owen Ritz who will be in the mix to challenge the Harvard ace. All four men scored were within the top seven of last year’s 5000 meter race.

2. DeLay is the Favorite, Numerous Talents Will Challenge

With the top three finishers from last year’s Heps 3k having graduated, the individual title for the women’s 3000 meters is wide-open this season. What makes this race even more intriguing is that the remaining five scoring positions were filled out by underclassmen runners. With that sort of experience in a conference championship race, these younger athletes have a better chance at feeling the race out early on and making more definitive moves.

Yale’s Kayley DeLay comes in with the fastest 3k time for any woman in the Ivy League this season at 9:15. She did this just two weeks ago in Boston and seems to be rounding her peak fitness together at just the right time. She has also run 2:11 for 800 this year, giving her a good chance to be in contention when the pace really begins to pick up towards the end of the race.

Also, be on the lookout for Princeton’s Sophie Cantine who comes into this weekend with the third fastest 3000 meter time in the conference. Her time of 9:23 pegs her as one of the favorites this time around. Cantine has also run a 4:41 mile this season, so watch out for her to make an earlier than usual move in this often tactical race. Her mile strength may lead her to a victory in the end.

Some other respectable talents that you might be seeing this weekend include Columbia’s Alexandra Hays, Cornell’s Gabrielle Orie and Penn’s Ariana Gardizy.

Hays has already run south of 9:25 twice this season and will be able to set herself up well to contend from the front. Barring any out of the ordinary racing strategies, the race will most likely be taken out at a slower pace which could favor Hays and allow her to attack hard in the last 800 to 1000 meters.

Orie was 7th in last year’s conference championship and, like Hays, has also run under 9:25 for the distance this season. Look for her to be up towards the front with Hays and potentially running a similar style race.

Gardizy is an athlete who doesn’t quite have the seasonal resume that Hays and Orie have, but she did nab a point at last year’s indoor conference meet. She is a sophomore this year and has the possibility of moving up several spots in the scoring positions.

3. Can Anyone Challenge Sam Ellis? Maybe Colin Daly?

*Note: Following the publication of this article, TSR was informed that Sam Ellis will be running the 1000 meters at this year's Ivy League Championships, not the mile.

After Ellis’ recent sub-four performance (3:57) in Boston two weeks ago, he seems to be the favorite in the men’s mile unless Tuntivate suddenly drops down in distance.

Across the board, Ellis has been strong in the middle distances this season, proving to be a major contender in the second-half of his races. Like most of the other events at a conference championship, the pace will most likely be a bit slower. This could be beneficial for Ellis who has developed his middle distance speed (and theoretically his finishing speed) substantially this winter. Look for him to follow a move if it is made late in the race, or even make a definitive move of his own with 400 or 600 meters to go.

Two guys who have gone under the radar nationally are Penn's Colin Daly and Ray Sellaro. Day recorded a 3:59 result in Boston a few weeks ago while sophomore teammate Sellaro wasn't far behind with a 4:01 of his own.

Both of these men, Daly specifically, have been extremely consistent over the last few seasons. Daly has displayed underrated range (arguably better than Ellis) and has quietly found himself in scoring positions in nearly all of his Ivy League Championship appearances. This year, however, he has clearly upped his fitness and should be a very legitimate contender for the title this weekend if he runs the mile.

Yale's Nick Dahl is another key name to watch after running 4:01. He's has quietly risen up the Ivy League ranks over the past few seasons and has developed into a consistent top talent.

4. Harvard Women Pegged As DMR Favorites

After finishing 3rd in the DMR at last year’s Heps meet (with only a little over one second between 1st and 3rd), the Harvard women were left with a sour taste in their mouths. After coming that close a year ago, they will be back for revenge this season.

The Crimson will return three of their four relay members from last year’s team with just the loss of anchor leg Kathryn Gillespie (who is now at Texas).

On lead-off leg, look for Abbe Goldstein to be at the front. She has run 2:09 in the 800 meters and 4:35 in the mile this season, so the 1200 meter distance would seemingly be an ideal fit for someone like herself. Look for her to take control of the race as she is one of the strongest runners in the field.

Returner Tessa Medrano will most likely handle the 800 meter leg as she has established PR’s of 2:14 (800) and 2:48 (1000). That 1000 meter time tells us that she can run something considerably faster than 2:14, but that has yet to be seen.

The loss of Gillespie would theoretically hurt a ton of relays, but the rise of youngster Anna Juul this season has been incredible. The Harvard sophomore has run 4:37 this season and will look to be one of the top anchor legs in the field. Her or Goldstein could easily switch with each other on the 1200 and 1600 meter legs.

Other teams like Penn could bring some heat, especially with Nia Akins in their lineup. The Quakers don't have a miler who has run under 4:50 this winter, but given the recent progress that we've seen from Melissa Tanaka and Arianna Gardizy, they should be able to find someone capable of putting together a respectable anchor leg.

5. Top Returners vs Top Times vs Zepf in the 1000 Meters?

*Note: Following the publication of this article, TSR was informed that Sam Ellis will be running the 1000 meters at this year's Ivy League Championships, not the mile.

At last year’s Heps meet, Penn's Mason Gatewood and Ray Sellaro placed 3rd and 4th, respectively in the 1000 meters as freshmen. With defending champion Alek Sauer now graduated, Gatewood and Sellaro have the opportunity to seriously contend for the title.

Gatewood has had a relatively quiet indoor season thus far, but the tactical racing that comes at Heps may suit him much better than his competitors. Gatewood will have the ability to run a pace that does not seem too foreign to him, allowing him to contend late in the race.

Teammate Ray Sellaro has had a bit more of a stronger year thus far. He had run 4:04 in the mile (twice) before having a huge breakthrough race two weeks ago in Boston with a 4:01 performance. That performance alone indicates that Sellaro has enough raw fitness to really be a factor in this race.

However, the Yale duo of Allen Siegler (2:23) and Will Laird (2:24) are coming off of very respectable 1000 meter performances from earlier in the month. They come in with seasonal bests that are considerably faster than anything that the Penn men have run this winter. On times alone, they're the favorites, but Sellaro has the potential to match those marks.

The same could be said for Dartmouth's Tim Zepf. It's unclear what he will run this weekend, but the 1000 meters could be an option after earning a flat-track converted mark of 1:49.50 for 800 meters earlier this season.


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