The men of the Ivy League will gather in Princeton, NJ for the HEPS meet on Saturday. In a league that could see two NCAA automatic qualifying teams (one in the Mid-Atlantic and one in the Northeast), this race is set to be incredibly entertaining.
The Princeton Tigers will look to defend their 2017 title at home on Saturday. The Tigers have taken an interesting route to this season, starting with the Spiked Shoe Invitational (where they finished 8th) on a potential scouting mission of the Mid-Atlantic Regional course.
Princeton then won the Nuttycombe Invitational...
Well...Princeton won the "B" race, opting again to take a less stressful look at the NCAA Championship course and not face significant competition.
Finally, Princeton won their home invitational, beating a strong Villanova Wildcat squad, 37 to 47. Seeing how Princeton constructed their 2018 schedule, Princeton is relying on great championship races and they have used the early part of their season to set them up for that. The Tigers will be looking to qualify for NCAA's automatically with a top two finish at the Mid-Atlantic Regional, having not accrued any significant wins so far. (Note: Princeton’s Spiked Shoe performance would benefit a number of teams if they earn an automatic berth to Nationals). Princeton is the clear favorite and it would take a monumental effort to dethrone the Tigers.
Individually, Conor Lundy is the league’s top returner from 2017 where he placed 3rd at HEPS and earned a 62nd place finish at the national meet. Lundy also won the Princeton Invitational and will look to win his second race in a row at home. Gannon Willcutts also returns as an All-Ivy performer from 2017 when he finished 9th. Willcutts placed 5th at the Princeton Invitational while teammate Matt Grossman finished 6th. Jeremy Spiezio and Ed Trippas round out the top five for the Tigers, while Viraj Deokar looks to regain his All-Ivy form from 2018. The entire top five for the Tigers should claim All-Ivy accolades on Saturday.
The New York City squad was 2nd in 2017 and will look to avenge their close loss last season. Columbia’s season began with a 2nd place finish at the Iona Meet of Champions, finishing behind only TSR#22 Indiana. The Lions then fielded a partial squad in the Paul Short Brown race to finish 6th. They closed out their regular season with a trip to Princeton, where they finished 5th. Columbia’s NCAA qualification hopes will rely on a top two finish as they have no projected top two wins at the moment.
Individually, Tyler Italiano led the team at Paul Short and the Princeton Invitational. He placed 7th at Princeton and 5th at Lehigh. Only Italiano broke into Princeton’s top five at the Princeton Invitational. Brian Zabliski finished 17th at Princeton Invitational as the team’s #2 runner and was All-Ivy last year in 7th. Zabliski led the team at Iona, finishing 5th, while Italiano finished 8th.
Kenny Vasbinder does return after a 5th place finish last season at HEPS and was the Lions’ #3 runner at Princeton. 2017 8th placer Lucky Schreiner has yet to appear this season. For team glory, these runners will need to channel their 2017 performances and displace the Tigers.
The Quakers are looking to return to the top of the podium after placing 3rd in 2017 and winning the title in 2016. Penn’s first major challenge was the Main Line Invitational, where they challenge the Villanova Wildcats, finish runner-up, 33 to 37. Penn then traveled to Wisconsin for the Nuttycombe Invitational, placing 31st against the nation's best. Their final HEPS prep meet was at the Penn State National Open where they finished 7th overall and as the top Ivy League team.
In what seems to be a trend for all Ivy League teams, Penn has not earned any Kolas points at this point in the season. (Editor’s Note: We will omit this sentence in the rest of the article, as no teams have earned any Kolas points). Penn will rely on a close 1-5 spread to succeed, with seven or eight runners who could step up to score on Saturday.
Individually, Penn has been led by a different runner in each race this season. Aaron Groff led the team with a 32nd place finish at Penn State. Anthony Russo finished 36th there, but led the team at the Main Line Invitational with a 2nd place finish of his own. Sam Webb was the leader in Wisconsin, but finished outside of the top 100 (124th). The Quakers were without leader Kevin Monogue throughout most of the season, but he did return to the grass at Penn State. Keep in mind that he finished 12th at this meet a year ago. It’s unclear who will lead the Quakers this weekend, but they’ll need great performances all around to challenge Princeton for the team title.
Cornell Big Red
Cornell snuck into the top half of the league in 2017, but lose their top three finishers to graduation. Cornell won their first meet of the season, the University of Buffalo Stampede Invite. Cornell then placed 2nd at the Paul Short Brown race, behind only Canadian squad Queen’s University. In their final Ivy League prep race, they finished 8th at the Princeton Invitational.
Individually, the freshman Fusco brothers (Matt and Greg) should lead the Big Red. Greg finished 41st at Princeton as the top runner, while Matt led the team at the UB Stampede Invite. Tomas Reimer will look to finish his HEPS career strong, as he’s been Cornell’s #2 at each race this season. Matt, Tomas, and Greg finished 10th, 12th, and 14th at the Paul Short Brown meet. Those three should be far ahead of the next Cornell runner this weekend.
Dartmouth Big Green
The Dartmouth men just missed a top-half finish in 2017 and will be looking to challenge for a top position in 2018. The Big Green opened their season at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown, placing 8th in a deep field. They followed that up with a 9th place finish at Penn State National Open, 13 points behind Penn. Dartmouth had been relying on a deep pack for the 2018 season. It will be interesting to see how that lineup structure will work at a smaller meet like HEPS.
Individually, Patrick O’Brien and Quinn Cooney should lead the team this weekend. Cooney finished 40th in Boston, while O’Brien led the team in 30th at Penn State. Henry Raymond and Alexander Kushen will also be crucial finishers for the Big Green, while Marco Pompilj and Owen Ritz were the #3 and #4 runners for the team at Penn State. Just like Penn, Dartmouth could see their #6 or #7 men enter the top five for this meet. Running as a strong pack could be the difference maker for Dartmouth, while a weak pack could put the team totally out of contention. Big Green could finish anywhere from 2nd to 5th.
The team from New Haven will look to gain inspiration from their female counterparts as the men look to improve upon their 6th place finish from last year. Yale’s first race this season was at H-Y-P, where they placed 2nd to Harvard (while Princeton did not compete). Yale then raced the Paul Short Gold race and finished 8th overall. The Bulldogs finished 29th at Wisconsin in the Pre-Nats Cardinal race. They sported a 23 second spread during their time in Madison.
Individually, Yale will be relying on Trevor Reinhart who finished 6th at this meet in 2017. Reinhart led the team in Wisconsin, placing 131st, but should have more in his legs than what he has shown so far this season. Cade Brown led the team as a freshman at the Paul Short Gold Invite in 34th and placed 5th at H-Y-P. Fellow freshman Robert Miranda placed 3rd at that meet to lead the Bulldogs. If Reinhart is back to top form, he could challenge for the win. Otherwise, Saturday could be a rough day for the Yale men.
Brown placed 7th in 2017 and will likely find themselves towards the bottom of the pack again this season. The Bears finished 15th in Boston at the Battle in Beantown. They followed that up with a 19th place finish at Penn State. The team is led by Cameron Daly who finished in 63rd at State College and Franco Martins who finished 37th at Beantown (the top Ivy performer on the day). The Bears will rely on Daly and Martins to compete with Cornell's Fusco brothers if they want to stay out of last place.
The Crimson finished at the bottom of the standings in 2017, but they have shown significant improvement in 2018. They beat Yale at H-Y-P, finished 3rd at Roy Griak (behind Duke and Minnesota), and most recently secured a 13th place finish at the Pre-Nats White race.
Up to now, Harvard’s finishes could be the most impressive outside of Princeton's.
Individually, Hugo Milner is having the best year of any HEPS runner so far. He won H-Y-P, placed 3rd at Roy Griak, and then raced to a huge 21st place finish in the Pre-Nats White race. Milner was 11th at HEPS last season. Not to be outdone, Kieran Tuntivate won Roy Griak and added a 37th place finish when this team was in Wisconsin. Will Battershill closes out Harvard's top three, having finished 6th in Minnesota and 2nd at H-Y-P. These three will set the tone for the Crimson, but a huge gap to their #4 and #5 runners will most certainly hurt them on Saturday.
1. Conor Lundy (Princeton)
2. Hugo Milner (Harvard)
3. Kieran Tuntivate (Harvard)
4. Tyler Italiano (Columbia)
5. Matt Grossman (Princeton)
6. Gannon Willcutts (Princeton)
7. Anthony Russo (Penn)
8. Trevor Reinhart (Yale)
9. Brian Zabliski (Columbia)
10. Ed Trippas (Princeton)
11. Will Battershill (Harvard)
12. Aaron Groff (Penn)
13. Jeremy Spiezio (Princeton)
14. Sam Webb (Penn)
15. Kenny Vasbinder (Columbia)
16. David Krahn (Princeton)
17. Greg Fusco (Cornell)
18. Colin Daly (Penn)
19. Kevin Monogue (Penn)
20. Perrin Hauge (Princeton)
1. Princeton Tigers (35)
2. Penn Quakers (70)
3. Columbia Lions (80)
4. Harvard Crimson (87)
5. Dartmouth Big Green (142)
6. Yale Bulldogs (154)
7. Cornell Big Red (166)
8. Brown Bears (190)