NCAA D-I: Columbia



By Jack Pfeifer
photo courtesy of Columbia University Athletics

Kyle Merber, now a seasoned veteran as a sophomore at Columbia, goes for his first trip to the NCAA outdoor championships this weekend at the sprawling Eastern Regional meet in Greensboro, N.C. The two Regionals – the West meet will be at the University of Texas in Austin – run Thursday through Sunday, and all events except for the multi-events will be contested.

In most of the events, the top 12 athletes in each event from each Regional will advance to the NCAA finals, to be held June 9-12 at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Each Regional begins with fields of 48 athletes per event. For the 19-year-old Merber, that means two rounds of the 1,500. After running a sub-4-minute mile at the Armory in March, Merber (Half Hollow Hills West HS, LI) went on to the NCAA indoor meet, where he did not get out of the heats.

Advancement in the field events will be complicated. Priscilla Frederick (St. Paul VI, Sicklerville, NJ) of St. John’s, for example, will compete in one of two simultaneous high-jump competitions. Frederick is now among the national leaders in the event, clearing 6 -0 ½ to win the ECAC this month at Princeton.

Merber and Frederick are two of about three dozen athletes from New York City colleges who will be competing in the Div. I East meet this weekend at North Carolina A & T. In addition, dozens more athletes who are natives of the region and who cut their teeth in the local track wars, indoors at the Armory and outdoors at Randall’s Island, will be competing for college teams from all over the country, at both Regional meets.

These include such national contenders as Nicole Blood (Saratoga Springs, NY), the senior distance runner at the University of Oregon, one of the contenders for the team championships; Walter Henning (St. Anthony’s, LI), the hammer thrower for another perennial powerhouse team, LSU, and a contender to win the individual title in his event; Dalilah Muhammad (Cardozo, Queens), 3rd a year ago in the 400 hurdles for USC, and Ashley Higginson (Colts Neck, NJ), a junior at Princeton who recently joined the sub-10 women’s steeplechase club and thus is a national contender in that event.

Athletes from college teams in the city will be competing for Iona (4 competitors), St. John’s (1), Manhattan (5), Columbia (15), LIU (2), Fordham (2) and St. Francis of Brooklyn (1). In the region, other teams include Stony Brook (4), Rutgers (15), Albany (10), Seton Hall (8), Binghamton (4), West Point (2), Lafayette (1) and Princeton (20). Upstate there’s Buffalo (9), Cornell (19) and Syracuse (20).

Some New Yorkers have made their mark in a hurry and will be in their first NCAA competition as freshmen. Charlene Lipsey (Hempstead, LI) has run 2:05.89 for LSU and will be one of four runners in the 800 for the Tigers in the East Regional; Chris Carrington (North Rockland, Thiells, NY) ran 1:48.96 at the IC4A and will be running the 800 for George Mason, and Shelby Greany (Suffern, NY) is the top freshman in the country in the steeplechase (10:08.66).

For Seton Hall, it is farewell, as the school athletic department has announced that is closing down the program. The Hoyas will be led by quartermilers Chris Cox (Monmouth Regional, Tinton Falls, NJ) in the men’s and Jernail Hayes (Glasgow, Del)  in the women’s.

Cox will be in the same event as his twin brother, Charles. Charles runs for the University of North Carolina, along with another star New Jersey quartermiler, freshman Clayton Parros (Seton Hall Prep).

Columbia has a lot more than Merber, including halfmiler Jeff Moriarty (Westwood, Mass), intermediate hurdler Kyra Caldwell (Ypsilanti, Mich.) and quartermiler Sharay Hale (Detroit). At the Heps early this month, the Lions set the all-time Ivy League record in the women’s 4x4, running 3:35.69. That time is 9th on the performance list for the East Region. To make the NCAA meet, they will need to finish in the top 12.

The Southern Cal hurdler Muhammad is not the only PSAL graduate who will be seeing action this weekend – in fact, she’s not even the only hurdling Benjamin Cardozo graduate doing so, because Cardozo alum Lindsay Rowe is in the 100 hurdles, for crosstown rival UCLA. One PSAL alum stayed close to home: Dean Brown, who attended August Martin (Queens), will be in the high jump for St. Francis College, Brooklyn.

The CHSAA is also well represented. In addition to Henning, of St. Anthony’s, alums include Keri Gallagher (Bishop Kearney, Brooklyn), running the 800 for Fordham; Lionel Williams (St. Peter’s, SI), one of four half-milers in the field for Penn State, and Ryan McDermott (Chaminade), running the steeplechase for Duke. Duke Coach Norm Ogilvie’s roster is stocked with plenty of New Yorkers, including Devotia Moore (Townsend Harris, Queens) in the 800 and Suejin Ahn (Ward-Melville, LI) in the 5,000.

New Jersey athletes are on numerous rosters across the country as well, including Craig Forys (Colts Neck), running the steeplechase for Michigan; Cory Nelms (Neptune), running the hurdles for Miami; Robby Andrews (Manalapan), in the 800 for Virginia; Shavon Greaves (Lakewood), in the sprints and relays for Penn State; Leslie Njoku (McNair Academic, Jersey City), in the IH for Georgia Tech; Natalie Gengel (Princeton), pole vaulting for Cornell, and Devon Bond (Trenton), jumping for Texas/San Antonio.

Andrews, the freshman star for the Cavaliers, is considered one of the contenders in the 800. He has already caused a stir, coming from behind at the NCAA indoor meet to upset Oregon Olympian Andrew Wheating and win the championship, by .01, then coming from behind a month later at the Penn Relays to pull off another upset – again catching Wheating – to give Virginia the championship in the 4x8, its first men’s win at the Relays in 67 years.

Wheating, a senior from Vermont, will not face Andrews at the Regional level because Oregon competes at the West meet. He is expected to double in the 800 and 1,500 as the Ducks go for their first outdoor men’s title in 26 years. Other key members of the Oregon men’s squad include Matthew Centrowitz (Broadneck, Md), one of the favorites in the 1,500, and Michael Maag, a Princeton graduate who is attending graduate school in Eugene and is entered in the 5k. 

According to tabulation by, there are 11 CHSAA graduates competing this weekend along with seven PSAL grads and 14 graduates of Long Island public schools:

·       CHSAA  Cazal Arnett (Christ the King/Binghamton) 400, Kelsey Malmquist (Kellenberg Memorial/Georgetown) steeplechase, Katie DiCamillo (Holy Trinity/Providence) 5k, Valete Graham (Mt. St. Michael/Albany) LJ, Brian McGovern (MSM/Manhattan) PV, Kyle Duggan (M. Farrell/UConn) PV, Daniel Lewis (Farrell/Villanova) steeplechase, along with Henning, Williams and Gallagher

·       PSAL  Darryll Oliver (Brooklyn Tech/Penn) 800, Steve Delice (Sheepshead Bay/Virginia) IH, Clemore Henry (Transit Tech/TCU) 400, along with Moore, Muhammad, Rowe and Brown

·       LI  Terrance Livingston (Great Neck South/Tennessee) 800, Kadeem Howell (Manhasset/Albany) LJ, Robert Sainvil (Bay Shore/Villanova) TJ, Ellen Dougherty (Riverhead/Villanova) 1500, Brittany Sheffey (Bellport/Tennessee) 1500, Maegan Krifchin (JFK, Bellmore/Syracuse) 1500, Laura Cummings (Bay Shore/Albany) steeple, Jennifer Pierson (Brentwood/Albany) steeple, Ashley Hendrix (Uniondale/Maryland), Gabriela Baiter (Glenn/Brown) TJ, Ashlea McLaughlin (Uniondale/UCLA) 400, along with Merber, Henning, Lipsey, Ahn, DiCamillo and Malmquist

·       Ivy League Prep  Alexandra Cadicamo (Hackley Sch/Yale) 5k

There will be 40 separate events contested at each Regional encompassing more than 3,000 competitors. Here are a few additional Previews by event, from an Eastern vantage point:


100/200 Kenny Mitchell (10.39/20.98) Georgetown, Larrone Moore (10.46/20.94) Delaware State, Rachaunn Ruffin (10.45/20.78) George Mason

400  Allodin Fothergill (46.00) Maryland/Eastern Shore, Charles (46.06) and Chris (46.57) Cox, Parros (46.31), Essex County alums Dwight Mullins (Mississippi State 45.48) and Kevin Bowen (Morgan State 46.30); Virginia natives David Verburg (46.27), Ja-Vell Bullard (46.29) and Nick Vaughn (46.86) for Mason

800  Penn State has Conn. freshman Cas Loxsom (1:46.74), Australian Ryan Foster (1:47.78), Owen Dawson (1:48.85) and Staten Island’s Williams (1:49.07); UVA has Andrews (1:47.73) and New York sophomore Lance Roller (1:47.85), UConn Brian Gagnon (1:47.88) and Michael Rutt (1:48.09); New Jersey freshman Sadiki White (1:48.35) will run for LSU

1500  Alex Bean (Somers NY) runs for Georgetown, New Zealanders Carl McKenzie and Mathew Mildenhall for Villanova, German Daniel Lipus for Iona, New Jerseyan Jeremy Zagorski for Kentucky; in the West, Brian Rhodes-Devey (Guilderland NY) will run for the host Longhorns

Steeplechase  Plenty of New Yorkers including John Martinez (North Rockland) at NC State, Chaminade’s McDermott at Duke, Farrell’s Lewis at Villanova; newcomer Forys, Lewis, Martinez and Donn Cabral (Princeton) have all run 8:48

5/10  Georgetown has Andrew Bumbalough (13:49), Levi Miller (14:01/29:43 and Michael Krisch (28:59); Virginia has Ryan Collins (14:07/29:35), Sean Keveren (14:10) and Trey Miller (29:14); Princeton has Cabral (13:58), Kyle Soloff (14:04) and Mark Amirault (14:04); Maryland resident and Ethiopian freshman Solomon Haile will run the 10k for Arkansas

Hurdles  California Domonick Sylve has run 13.79 for West Point, Nelms 13.82 for Miami, Chris Kinney 13.82 for Georgetown; Rutgers has natives Kyle Grady (East Brunswick) 13.95, Aaron Younger (Delsea) 51.00 and Steve Swern (Lenape) 51.68

Relays  UMES 40.01, Delaware State 3:06.80

HJ  Seven-footers are Ryan Fritz of Penn State, Justin Frick of Princeton,  Adam Bergo of Rutgers and Josue Louis (Ramapo NY) of Temple

PV New Yorker Casey DiCesare (Irvington) will vault in the West for UCLA; tops in the East is Khalil Uqdah of Lehigh

LJ/TJ  Cornell has Duane Teixeira, Joshua Kirkpatrick and Gary Jones; Tim Boeni (Brick Twp, NJ) has jumped 25 feet for Temple; UMBC has Victor Gilreath in the TJ

Throws  Penn State has Joe Kovacs and New Yorker Blake Eaton in the shot, Cory Eck in the DT; Princeton has Eric Plummer (St. Joseph’s, NJ) in the SP, George Abyad in the DT and Craig Pearce in the hammer, but the Tigers did not enter their star freshman hammer thrower, Conor McCullough; Monmouth, a throwing power, has Larry Lundy in the shot and hammer plus javelin throwers Marion Easley (Somerville, NJ), Eric Paul (Toms river East), Vincent DuVernois and Victor Rizzotto (Southern Regional); Manhattan has Vincent Elardo in the SP and hammer, Roman Ewald in the DT and Seid Mujanovic in the hammer; sophomore James Plummer (Toms River South) has thrown over 190 in the disc for Rutgers

Dec  Michael Morrison, a native of Virginia and former athlete at Florida, is in the field for California; Sean Smith (Scotch Plains NJ) made it for Greg Roy’s U Conn


100/200 Trisha-Ann Hawthorne (Hamilton, Tarrytown NY) 11.44/23.30 for UConn, Greaves 11.33/23.07 for Penn State, Ogechi Nwaneri (Chatham NJ) 11.59 for Va Tech

400  Hale has run 52.61 for Columbia; Seton Hall has Nijgia Snapp (Oakcrest) 53.97 and Toneisha (Franklin) 54.12 along with Hayes, who is running the 200 and the IH, and former NCAA champion Krista Simkins, who is in the 200; Liz Mott (New Rochelle) 54.69 for UNC, Ashlea McLaughlin 52.92 for UCLA

800  The LSU crew includes Philadelphia native LaTavia Thomas (2:01.40); BC has the King sisters (Scotia-Glenville) Caroline (2:05.45) in the 8, Jillian (4:24.34) in the 15; Yale’s Kate Grace has run 2:05.65, Duke’s Moore 2:06.34, Fordham’s Gallagher 2:08.75, Columbia’s Serita Lachesis 2:09.29

1500  Stony Brook’s Lucy Van Dalen has run 4:17.95, her twin sister Holly 16:06.99 in the 5k; Villanova has Ellen Dougherty (4:18.91), Canadian Sheila Reid (4:20.68), Floridian Nicole Schappert (4:22) and Australian Brooke Simpson (4:26); Georgetown has Canadian Avril Ogrodnick (4:21), New Englander Rachel Schneider (4:22)  and Lauren Borduin (4:26); Erin Hays (Shoreham-Wading River) has run 4:27 and Jackie Drouin 4:22 for Columbia, Brittany Sheffey 4:19 for Tennessee, Maegan Krifchin 4:22 for Syracuse, Australian Heidi Gregson 4:21 for Iona, Caitlin Lane (Greenwich Central, NY) 4:20 for Penn State; in the West, Victoria Pennings (Warwick Valley) will run for Stanford

Steeplechase  Penn State’s Bridget Franek leads the nation at 9:48; Syracuse has sophomore Heather Stephens (10:14), Rebekah MacKay (10:20), Cassie White (10:26) and Natalie Busby (New Paltz) 10:29; Greany is not the only Suffern grad in the event, as Kara McKenna (10:24) runs it for NC State; Columbia has Jackie Quinn (10:29) and Mallory Anderson (10:36)       

5/10  ‘Nova has Amanda Marino (Jackson NJ) 16:10, Bogdana Mimic (16:22) and Kaitlyn Tallman 16:35; Duke has Ahn (16:23), Delaware freshman Juliet Bottorff (16:24) and Pennsylvanian Carly Seymour (35:05); Columbia has New Englanders Caroline McDonough (16:26) and Emily Lanois (16:48); Providence has New Yorkers DiCamillo (33:57) and Sam Roecker (BHBL) 16:43; Syracuse has four in the 10 – Catherine DeSarle (Carmel), Stefanie Slekis, Kim Spano and hometowner Nana Sang-Bender; in the West, double Pac-10 champion Blood goes for the 5/10 double for her Ducks

100H/400H  Aleesha Barber has run 13.10 for Penn State, Shericka Ward 13.26 for Villanova, Phylicia George 13.39 for UConn, Landria Buckley 13.41 for Howard; Penn State’s Fawn Dorr (Akron NY) has run 56.65 and also runs both relays; the Hall’s Hayes has run 57.04, Columbia’s Kyra Caldwell 57.98, Njoku 58.11 for Tech, the Jameson sisters (Eleanor Roosevelt HS, Md) Tameka 56.51 and Takecia for 58.14 for Miami; Assata Cowart (New Rochelle) is in the IH for Temple; in the West, Rowe (13.24) won the Pac-10 100H for UCLA, Muhammad (57.14) was runnerup in the IH for SC

Relays  UConn 44.43, Penn State 44.62/3:33.06, Columbia 3:35.69, Georgetown 44.69/3:38.96, The Hall 3:37.02

HJ  Frederick and UConn’s Carin Knight (New Rochelle) have gone 6 feet; Columbia has Monique Roberts (Cicero-North, Syracuse)

PV  Final NCAA chance for the former national HS recordholder, Tiffany Maskulinski, now a senior at Buffalo after a stop along the way at Washington State; Pennsylvania natives abound, including Tory Worthen at Princeton, Mandissa Marshall at Mason and Caitlain Fairbairn and Jocelyn Witmer at State

LJ/TJ  Malin Marmbrandt is in both for Manhattan; Columbia has Uju Ofoche of Baltimore in the LJ, Queen Okeke of Texas in the TJ; LI native Baiter, who began at Penn State, is in the TJ for Brown; Parisienne Louise Faye jumps for Seton Hall, where she is in graduate school

Throws  Buffalo has Becky O’Brien in the SP, Kristy Woods and Shant’e White in the hammer; Virginia has Maureen Laffan and Emily Vannoy in the shot, Vannoy and Erin Wykoff in the disc, Tara Karin in the jav; UConn has Tynishia McMillian in the shot and disc, Victoria Flowers in the shot and hammer, and Emma Crowcroft in the jav; the javelin field includes Alana Taylor of Lafayette, Laura Rycek of Bucknell, Victoria Imbesi (Our Lady of Mercy, NJ) of Cornell, Jillian Seamon of Delaware and Ashley Turici of Robert Morris; the shot includes Christin Bridge of St. Francis/Pa., the DT Allison Randall of Morgan State, the hammer Atahlia Smith of Sacred Heart

Hep  Californian Kiani Profit of Maryland is 4th seed (5686); also accepted to the field of 24 are Uhunoma Osazuwa of Syracuse (5549), Georgetown graduate Buky Bamigboye (now at Vanderbilt) 5527, and UCLA sophomore and Pennsylvania native Ryann Krais (5426)