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Track teams fare well at home invite

Both the men's and women's indoor track teams competed in the Princeton Invitational this Saturday at Jadwin Gym. But the meet was perhaps the most laid-back of the year, with both teams resting some of their best athletes for the looming Heptagonal Championships Feb. 26-27 in Hanover, N.H.

The last event of the Invitational, the 4x400 meter relay, had only one relay team — Hunter — entering on the women's side, so the Hawks ran during the men's 4x400. Princeton's men entered three teams, placing first, third and fourth, and the Hunter men entered one squad, which finished second in the relay.

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"[The meet] was a tuneup for the Heps," men's head coach Fred Samara said. "We tried to get some new guys out there. We let some of our guys get healthy and get their minds focused."

Freshmen performers led the men in many of the events. David Dean won the 800 with a time of one minute, 55.63 seconds, and Bruce Hancock finished third in the mile at 4:11.81.

Particularly impressed with Hancock's showing, Samara said, "Bruce just had a great performance in the mile, and he's made great improvement this year."

Two freshmen, Adrian Mullings and Javius Winn, placed second and third in the 55 hurdles with times of 7.74 and 7.77 seconds, respectively. The Tigers also took first and third in the pole vault, with junior Jonathan Jessup winning the event at 16 feet, five inches, and freshman Brandon Braunstein picking up points in third place with a height of 14'9".

Junior captain Scott Denbo continued his excellent performances in the shot put, finishing second with a throw of 18.24 meters.

Many of the Princeton men were held out from competition at the home meet, as the Tigers renew their push for an unprecedented third consecutive Triple Crown. Earlier this year, the men's cross-country team won Heps. To complete a Triple Crown, Princeton must add victories next week at the indoor Heps and also capture the Heps outdoor title in the spring.

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"We've had some guys going since the summertime with cross-country," Samara said, underscoring the importance of resting a number of his distance runners.

For the women, the Invitational also provided an opportunity to get some younger runners and throwers into competition settings, while not tiring out their key athletes as Heps quickly approach. However, the experienced Tigers were the ones getting the results.

In the 55 hurdles, senior Maya Yaidom won the event, timing 7.76 seconds, and sophomore Megan Kennedy won the mile in 5:14.53. Junior Jen Cannistra closely trailed a Columbia opponent for a large portion of the 3000, passing the Lion with just two laps to go. She eventually came up just short to finish second at the end of the race.

The field events also included two Tiger champions, with junior Kah-lila Thomas winning the shot put with a toss of 42'7.5", and fellow junior Sharon Jordan continuing to impress in the triple jump. Jordan jumped 38'9" to win the event.

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With these strong performances at the Invitational and promising results at H-Y-Ps last weekend, the women have a foundation to build upon going into Heps. Although the team may be "undermanned," according to head coach Peter Farrell, a solid showing at Dartmouth is by no means out of reach.

Both the men's and women's track teams can use the performances put together this week by younger members of their squads for inspiration as they prepare for Heps.

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