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Gearing up for the Ivy League Heptagonal (HEPS) Championships at University of Pennsylvania in two weeks, men’s and women’s track and field took to Weaver Stadium for the Larry Ellis Home Invitational this past weekend.

Freshman Obi Amaechi reset the school record for the third time in three meets, while, in their last home meet as Princeton athletes, several talented seniors led the way on the track.

The Mike Brady Invitational Mile was the pick of the track action, as Assistant Coach at Princeton, Robby Andrews, headlined a high-caliber field. In front of an enthusiastic home crowd, Andrews narrowly missed out on a magical sub-4-minute mile, finishing with 4:00.51. Princeton’s experienced seniors were close behind, as Garrett O’Toole and Will Paulson showed their class to finish just behind in 4:01.24 and 4:01.78 respectively.

When O’Toole took the Ivy League indoor mile title in February, he was followed by teammate Noah Kauppila in second. Paulson took silver over the longer 3000m on that day along with talented sophomore Conor Lundy. These athletes were all shooting for the sub-4 mile at the Larry Ellis meet.

“Having four guys on the team attempting sub-four speaks to how well Coach Vigilante and Coach Samara have prepared us,” explained O’Toole. Expressing his excitement ahead of the Ivy League HEPS, he assured The Daily Princetonian that “this meet showed our distance runners are looking great heading into the championship season.” At Penn the stakes will be high, as O’Toole and his teammates fight to complete the “Triple Crown” of Ivy League titles for the year — Outdoor Track and Field, Indoor Track and Field, and Cross-Country.

Competition at the Larry Ellis Invitational had got underway on Friday with the distance events, as senior Josh Ingalls  was the third collegiate finisher in the men’s 800m, and senior Melissa Reed impressed in the 5000m, recording 16:52 for a PR. 

In better conditions the next day, Princeton’s sprinters excelled. In the first event, the 4x100m relay, the women put together a series of smooth exchanges to run 47.13, a time just outside their season’s best. Shortly after, the men won the same race in a swift 40.50 seconds, the fastest time in the Ivy League this season.

With seniors Christina Walter for the 200m and Carrington Akosa for the 100m recording collegiate and personal bests on Saturday, it’s clear the short sprinters will be competitive in both the relays and individual events at HEPS. Walter ran an impressive 24.46 seconds while Akosa, Princeton’s most prolific Ivy League scorer of all time, looked powerful and relaxed, speeding away to a time of 10.45 seconds. As fellow team captain Josh Freeman ’18 powered to a season’s best over the longer 400m in 47.63, it seems that — as usual — he and Akosa are rounding into form at exactly the right time.

Despite some remarkable performances by collegiate and professional athletes on the track, it was freshman thrower Obi Amaechi who ultimately stole the spotlight. In the sixth round, she unleashed a mammoth toss of 54.43 meters, adding to her own school record with the third best mark in Ivy League history. Amaechi has now broken the school record in every outdoor meet this season, demonstrating not just incredible raw talent, but the ability to compete consistently well. With senior Kennedy O’Dell winning the hammer throw and taking fourth in both shot put and discus, it’s clear the throwing disciplines will be key to the women’s team’s success at HEPS and beyond.

For most athletes, the home meet was the final tune-up before an intense championship season that commences with the Ivy League Championships in a fortnight’s time. From the 100m to the mile, it’s clear the senior class will be pivotal in the upcoming weeks and sorely missed beyond graduation. While the teams compete for Ivy and NCAA honors, be sure to keep an eye on Obi Amaechi. Currently the 10th best thrower in the East, she looks set to continue an astonishing first season. 

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