The men's track teams on campus — cross country, indoor track and outdoor track — have dominated the Heptagonal championships the last two years. Princeton has won back-to-back 'Triple Crowns,' by capturing all three Heps titles, and looks to repeat this year. Cross country has already done its part for the Tigers, and in the winter season, it is time for indoor track to rise to the challenge of defending its title.
Princeton's next chance to gain experience before Heps later this month is the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet Saturday in Cambridge, Mass. The women's indoor track team is also in action against its Crimson and Eli counterparts at H-Y-Ps, but it faces a much tougher road to victory, with a strong Harvard squad blocking Princeton's path.
"It's two weeks prior to the Heps, and everything in our season builds towards the Heps," men's head coach Fred Samara said.
For the men, Harvard and Yale should be relatively light competition. The Crimson lost to Cornell by a point earlier in the season, but beat Brown easily in a dual meet.
The Elis, meanwhile, have a strong 4x400 meter relay team and decent hurdlers. Yale's best athlete may be sophomore Don Carson, whose achievements last year earned him the plaudit, "one of the best freshmen in recent Eli history," as described in this season's preview by the school's media guide. But Carson and his teammates lack the overall strength and depth to compete with the Tigers event for event.
Regarding last weekend's action against the first-rate competition of UConn and Penn State, junior captain Scott Denbo said, "It's definitely a good sign [going into H-Y-Ps]. I'm expecting we should win."
The men are counting on strong performances from their leaders but also realize that the team must get good production in all events.
"We bring 33 guys to league events, including the Heps, and we need good performances from everyone on the team," Samara said.
It probably will not be that easy for the women. Harvard is 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Ivy League, including a victory over Brown, the defending Heps champion. A quick glance at the times of the Crimson and Tigers leads one to believe that H-Y-Ps will be a closely contested meet.
Princeton's 3000-meter runners, junior Jen Cannistra, freshman Sarah Rivlin and senior Courtney Ebersole posted times against Penn last weekend that favorably compare to their Harvard counterparts. Senior captain Shawneeque Callier and junior Rebecca Desman should have a good chance for victory in the high jump, but the news is not all good for the Tigers.
The Crimson's Jill Kornetsky, who competes in the 20-lb. weight throw and the shot put, has posted very impressive marks in the season thus far. Princeton may also have trouble in the mile, due to Harvard's Mary Unsworth, whose time was about ten seconds better than sophomore Holly Huffman's clocking in her victory against Penn. The Tigers are aware that Harvard will provide them with stiff competition.
After Princeton knocked off Penn, 66-61, senior captain Allison Brown said, "What we did this weekend gives us a lot of promise going into H-Y-Ps, and we are ready to go in there and try our best. The competition will be tougher with Harvard."
But the H-Y-Ps also include Yale, which brings a team strong in the 400-meter hurdles, throwing events and long jump. The Tigers need to bring the intensity that powered them to a close win over Penn last weekend to Cambridge.
Both of Princeton's teams must put together strong performances for the momentum that they need going into the ever-approaching Heps.