Last weekend at Weaver Track Stadium was the annual Larry Ellis track and field invitational. Ellis coached Princeton’s track and field team from 1970 to 1992. He became the first African-American head coach of an Ivy League sport in the process, and coached the 1984 Olympic track and field team. Up against high-caliber competition from all over the country, the Tigers honored his legacy with a host of breakout performances.
Sophomore All-American and 13th-ranked Obiageri Amaechi clinched first place in the discus with a new personal best of 57.71 (189-4). She set a new meet record and broke her own Ivy League one from a mere two weeks ago.
Senior Jackie Berardo posted a new personal best of 2:06.34 in the elite 800-meters. Berardo placed seventh, behind Olympic-level athletes like six-time NCAA champion Raevyn Rogers. Berardo trailed the leaders even after opening her first lap in a speedy 61 seconds.
“It would be difficult to design a better way to end my regular season track career,“ Berardo said. “I was able to race Olympians and role models, including my former teammate from freshman year and current professional Cecilia Barowski [’16], and do it all on my home track with my teammates who have become family.”
Other standout performances came in the high jump, pole vault, and distance events. Junior Hadley Wilhoite cleared the bar on her third attempt to take second place in the high jump with a new personal best of 1.67 (5-5.75). First-year Hanne Borstlap grabbed first place in the pole vault with a jump of 3.75 (12-3.5). Sophomore Melia Chittenden won the 5000 with a time of 16:43.00.
In the 3000-meter steeplechase, senior captain Allie Klimkiewicz placed third with a new personal best of 10:16.12. She ran steadily for the majority of the race before unleashing a kick on the final lap to close the gap with the leaders. Junior Alie Fordyce grabbed 11th place in the elite 1500, lowering her personal best with a time of 4:23.10 in an event won by Olympic middle distance runner Ajee Wilson.
On the men’s side, Princeton had five individual champions and personal records across the board in the fierce day of competition. Senior Adam Kelly won the hammer throw with a distance of 70.75 (232-1), comfortably securing his first place. In the javelin, first-year Chandler Ault dominated the competition. His throw of 64.40 (211-3) placed him second on Princeton’s javelin all-time list.
Princeton men also performed well in the jumps. First-year Dayo Abeeb clinched another win with a 15.14 (49-8.25) performance in the triple jump. Led by junior Jesse Thibodeau, Princeton took places 1, 3, 4, and 5 in the long jump.
Princeton’s distance men posted top marks in the 3000 steeplechase and the Mike Brandy Men’s Mile. Sophomore Ed Trippas won the steeplechase with a personal best of 8:50:09. The Tigers faced fierce competition in the 1500, but both sophomore Sam Ellis and junior Conor Lundy put up personal bests. Ellis placed fourth in a time of 3:45:92 and Lundy came in right with him at 3:45:96.
The invitational was “a great chance for some of our guys to get out and run against really good competition,” Ellis said. “It’s so nice to be able to walk down from your dorm and be ready to race, so that will be perfect for the Ivy League Championships in two weeks.”
Next up on the schedule are the historic Penn Relays, held annually at the University of Pennsylvania. Six athletes from the women’s team and 10 from the men’s team will compete in individual events; both teams will compete as well in a host of relays.
The women will be competing Thursday to Saturday in a variety of relay events, including the 4x400, 4x800, 4x1500, and Distance Medley. In addition, Borstlap will compete in the Pole Vault and senior Brighie Leach in the 3000 steeplechase. Chittenden, senior Madison Offstein, and sophomore Peyton Brown will take part in the 3000, while Klimkiewicz will attempt the 5000 this weekend.
The men will be competing in the 4x100, 4x400, and the Shuttle Hurdle relays. In addition, junior Joey Daniels and first-year Christian Brown will be competing in the 110m hurdles, Kelly in the hammer throw, and Ault in the javelin. In the men’s 5000, three tigers will be competing: junior Gannon Willcutts, first-year Jakob Kintzele, and senior Steven Sum. In the 3000 steeplechase, Trippas and junior Perrin Hagge will be competing as well as Ellis in the Olympic Development Men’s Mile.
“It will be an exciting opportunity to run a fast time in front of thousands of people,” Ellis said. “I can’t wait.”