By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer
Collegiate indoor track and field takes central stage next weekend, with Syracuse University hosting the BIG EAST Championship and Cornell University hosting the Heptagonal Championships. Both meets have former Section III athletes competing, including Jeff Cook, Halle Watson, Mellisa Coleman, Ryan Raffa, Adam Wasileski, Leishia Rahr, Antonika Owens and Jeff Rhinehardt, to name a few.
The BIG EAST Indoor Track and Field Championship returns to the Carrier Dome for the twentieth consecutive year. With sprint trials on Saturday, sprint finals on Sunday, and distance running events on both days, the BIG EAST remains one of the best running shows on the Syracuse calendar.
The Carrier Dome on the Syracuse University campus has been the site of the championship since its inaugural year in 1980 for men, and 1983 for women. Athletes from thirteen colleges will compete next weekend, representing Georgetown, Boston College, Connecticut, Miami, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, St John's, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Villanova and West Virginia.
Villanova holds ten women's BIG EAST indoor titles dominating the sixteen year history. In the men's indoor championships, the title has been captured by six different schools with Georgetown, Seton Hall and Villanova, each claiming three or more team crowns. In 1998, Georgetown won both men's and women's team titles.
As the action heats up in the Dome, Barton Hall on the Cornell University campus will host the fifty-second indoor track and field Heptagonal Championships. Besides the eight Ivy League schools- Princeton, Pennsylvania, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, Harvard, Columbia, and Yale- Army and Navy teams have traditionally participated in this meet, which was first held in 1948 for men and 1981 for women. Princeton won eight of the last twenty men's team trophies, including 1998, and the last two women's team trophies.
This year's Heptagonal Championships at Cornell are part of the yearlong celebration of 25 years of Ivy League women's athletic championship competition, the longest in the Nation. Following a dramatic growth in recent years, the Ivy League now sponsors 16 league sports for women, involving more athletes than in any collegiate conference.
While honoring past coaches and athletes, the Silver Anniversary of Women's Championships celebrates the League's continuing progress and innovation. The Council of Ivy Group Presidents kicked off the celebration last May in conjunction with the Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Coaches' Regatta. The Anniversary's capstone, a symposium on women's athletics, will be held in Brooklyn, NY in April.
The track meet is only one of the highlights of the silver anniversary celebrations. The weekend starts on Friday with a luncheon honoring the pioneer women athletes of Cornell. Olympian Donna DeVarona will give a perspective on women in sports, followed by a historical look at Cornell women's athletics and a discussion of current student-athlete issues.
As part of the anniversary celebration, each institution has selected silver-anniversary teams that recognize outstanding athletes in each of the league's 16 championship women's sports. The indoor track and field list will be released on February 25, 1999, and the outdoor track and field list on April 28, 1999.
The cross-country honor roll was released on October 28, 1998, at the eve of the Ivy League championship in Van Cortland Park. It includes Heather Porch and Anne Sullivan (Brown), Devon Martin and Ylonka Wills (Columbia), Jennifer Cobb and Pam Hunt (Cornell), Maribel Sanchez and Jenna Rogers (Dartmouth), Kate Wiley and Jenny Stricker (Harvard), Sue Eckel and Chris Lundy (Pennsylvania), Laura Cattivera and Lynn Jennings (Princeton), and Kelly Groteke and Margaret Wynne (Yale).
In addition to meetings, speeches and awards, a documentary book and a traveling exhibit will commemorate the history of Ivy League women's athletics, particularly the last 25 years of Ivy League women's championships. The exhibit will stop at Cornell for the weekend.
Whether you prefer the modern comfort of the Carrier Dome or the nostalgic history of Barton Hall, Central New York is the place to be this weekend. It is indeed a rare treat, and somewhat of an unfortunate coincidence, to have a choice between two collegiate track and field meets.
Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. He maintains The Syracuse Running Page and receives email at email@example.com.