Track & Field: Ratcliffe sets Ivy record in hammer throw
Kicking off the second day of the Sam Howell Invitational at home with style Saturday morning, freshman Julia Ratcliffe obliterated the Ivy League record in the hammer. Recording the third-best throw in the nation so far this season, Ratcliffe unleashed a 218-foot, nine-inch (66.69 meter) bomb on her last attempt.
“The goal for this year was just to get back to where I was before college and before I had to get used to the adjustment in my training, and that was 67 meters,” Ratcliffe said. “Already being back at 66 meters exceeds expectations, and I’m very happy about it.”
In the winter Ratcliffe competed in the weight throw for the first time and set school and Ivy League records on her way to placing second at Heps to the current record holder, Adabelle Ekechukwu of Harvard. However, Ratcliffe is happy to be back to her main event for outdoors.
“I feel so much better than being stuck inside all the time. Being outside in the sun is great,” Ratcliffe said. “I just need to keep going up and up from here. Heps will be good, and from then we’ll be looking forward to Nationals.”
The night before, the Tigers impressed as they competed against athletes from schools all over the East Coast in cool and breezy conditions. Highlighting the elite night of distance races, the Tigers rolled in the 10,000m, as juniors Chris Bendtsen and Tyler Udland controlled the race from the start. Gunning for qualifying times for the NCAA Regional meet at the end of the season, Bendtsen and Udland worked together to pull the field through to a fast time.
“People were talking to me after the race, asking if I was mad about Tyler and I doing most of the work,” Bendtsen said. “Honestly, I wasn’t mad at all. I felt like I could hit the time, so I could take the lead. I was just cruising along and hitting the splits; it felt good.“
Pushing over the final lap, Bendtsen broke away and kicked home to finish in a new personal best of 29 minutes, 32.15 seconds. Udland dug in and kept things together to finish hard in 29:44.86 for third. Both should qualify for Regionals.
“I’m really happy with how it ended up,” Bendtsen said. “I ran 29:32, and it wasn’t really all that challenging — I wasn’t that gassed at the end.”
Immediately afterward, in the last event of the night, senior Abby Levene dominated the women’s 10k. Tucking into the pack early on, Levene followed the slow pace and patiently waited until halfway to make a move. Dropping the hammer at 5k, Levene abruptly accelerated away from the field and started to push. Running a hot last half, she finished in 34:21.08, a new meet record and personal best.
Earlier in the day, senior Michael Franklin essentially time-trialed the 5,000m. Following a pacemaker through about halfway, Franklin got off to a fast start before he was forced to forge out on his own. Slowing down over the second half of the race, Franklin finished in 14:14.04 to place first out of 63 competitors.
In the women’s steeplechase, senior Mel Newbery had a great season-opener, placing third in 10:18.66. Senior co-captain Greta Feldman and classmate Alexis Mikaelian went 1-2 in the 1,500m, as Feldman won in 4:23.04. Junior Molly Higgins ran a solid race to finish seventh at 4:28.90.
Sophomore Eddie Owens placed fourth in the men's steeplechase, finishing in 9:05.67.
Heading the sprints on the second day of the meet, junior Tom Hopkins had a big day as he won the long jump, ran a leg in the second-place 4x100m relay, and placed third in the 200m dash. Hopkins stopped the clock in 21.74 seconds in the 200 and leapt to 7.25 meters, or 23 feet, 9.5 inches, in the long jump.
The women posted several fast times in the 800m, as sophomore Cecilia Barowski was the top collegian, taking second in 2:08.59. The Tigers also claimed the next three spots — with junior Kacie O’Neil leading the rest at 2:09.93.
In the men’s 800m, junior Michael Williams and sophomore Bradley Paternostro both placed in the top five for Princeton. Trying to kick after a slightly slow first lap, the two finished virtually together, as Williams took third in 1:50.97 with Paternostro right behind in 1:50.98. In a highly anticipated duel, sophomores Michael Eggleton and Eddie Owens raced in the final heat of the 800. Eggleton handily pulled out the victory over Owens, finishing in 1:57.70.
In the field, junior Imani Oliver was the winner in the triple jump, reaching 12.32 meters on her first attempt. Senior Lauren Tauscher was the runner-up in the pole vault, clearing 3.70m. For the men, junior Alec Bingaman threw a personal record of 57.95m in the javelin, while sophomore Scott Rushton also set a personal best in the shot put, throwing 16.07m.
With a busy upcoming schedule, the Tigers are encouraged by the progress they have made so far at the start of the outdoor season. Next week both teams will send squads to the George Mason Invitational in Virginia. Some distance runners will race the week after in the competitive Mt. SAC Relays in California from April 18–20.
“Mt. SAC is always a very fast race. Personally, I just want to run as fast as I can in the 5k and PR,” Bendtsen said. “I haven’t been in that type of crazy fast race yet, so it should be a lot of fun. It’s a great meet where everyone goes out there to run as fast as they can, so it will be exciting for us.”
The Larry Ellis Invitational in two weeks is the next home meet for the Tigers. Events will be at Weaver Stadium and West Windsor Fields, starting the evening of April 19.