Woodard ’06 runs into Heps history

Sunday left no doubt as to who is the class of the Ivy League.

While Cornell cruised to its fifth straight women’s indoor Heptagonal Championships crown in Hanover, N.H., Joslyn Woodard ’06 solidified her place as the most decorated athlete in the history of Ancient Eight indoor track. Woodard won three events for an unprecedented third time in four years. Her titles in the long jump, 200-meter dash and 60-meter dash brought her career total to 10 individual championships, two more than any other athlete had ever earned at Heps.

Woodard won the long jump for the fourth straight time, and her leap of 6.23 meters met the provisional qualifying standards for Nationals. She also set personal records in both the long jump and the 60-meter dash, which she won in 7.61 seconds. The meet capped what has been the most convincing individual reign of league dominance ever.

“I just don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” Woodard said.

Cornell rookie Jeomi Maduka was Woodard’s main obstacle in the long jump. Both knew what to expect from the other: the highest level of competition.

“With Jeomi bringing the heat, I love the competition,” Woodard said. “I just love it.”

Before the meet, Woodard approached Maduka and introduced herself.

“This week, going in as I watched Jeomi, I knew exactly what she was going through,” Woodard said. “I told her, ‘We’ve heard a lot about each other. Let’s just do this, and do it big.'”

They did.

And with her fifth jump, Woodard cleared Maduka’s 6.18-meter performance and claimed the lead for good.

But Woodard’s efforts were not enough to halt the Big Red’s half-decade of dominance. Cornell controlled the competition from the start, winning six events to score 142 points. The Bulldogs finished second for the second year in a row, with 85 points, trailed by Brown and Harvard, who scored 75 and 60 points, respectively.

Woodard shared Athlete of the Meet honors with Princeton’s Cack Ferrell, who won both the mile run and the 3,000-meter run, a race that may have featured the strongest field in the country outside of Nationals.

Ferrell edged Lindsay Donaldson ’08 at the finish in the mile on Saturday, winning in 4:43.63. Donaldson’s 4:43.79 would have been a new meet record if Ferrell had not claimed the title instead.

Katie McKinstry ’07 said the unusually circular shape of the track helped Ferrell maintain her lead on a final lap that saw the two stars vying for position.

“They were neck and neck, the two of them,” she said. “It was so dramatic looking, it was amazing. Lindsay was just unfortunate that she was on the outside.”

On Sunday, Ferrell again bested Donaldson and Harvard’s Lindsey Scherf to win the 3K solidly. Ferrell’s time of 9:17.60 put her well ahead of Scherf (9:28.99) and Donaldson (9:32.00). The race was the last distance event of the meet, and every starter toed the line having already run earlier in the weekend. McKinstry said the race became more about desire than anything else.

“Everyone had already done an event,” she said. “It was just pure racing because nobody was fresh. It was just guts.”

But Scherf got her chance to shine, too. The overwhelming favorite in the 5K, she won in 16:27.94. McKinstry finished second in 16:33.27, a personal best by over 20 seconds. The time also gave McKinstry a provisional spot at Nationals, where she may compete depending on how many other runners across the country log better times.

It seems more and more likely that captain Molly Lederman ’06 will be in Fayetteville, Ark., in March for Nationals, especially after joining Woodard as a repeat Ivy League champion Sunday. Her 4.10-meter effort in the pole vault, both a personal and meet record, put some distance between Lederman and the provisional qualifying height of 3.95 meters, which she cleared three weeks ago at the Giegengack Invitational.

A handful of other individual performances helped lock up second place for the Elis. Katrina Castille ’07 took second in the 60-meter dash, just two hundredths of a second behind Woodard. Dionna Thomas ’06 claimed third in the triple jump. And Margo Angelopoulos ’06 placed fifth and fourth in the shot put and weight throw, respectively.

Despite the standout showings from Woodard, Lederman, Donaldson and others, Cornell never faltered. The Big Red have become predictably dominant, building on past successes to lure in prospects year after year. McKinstry said their depth, which allows the team to fill almost every available slot in every event, becomes invaluable when every point is crucial and injuries can dash a team’s hopes.

“They have people in every event that can score,” McKinstry said. “They just have so many bodies that can score, and those add up.”

So again the standings read Cornell first, Yale second. But with Woodard making individual history and several others competing at the highest level in the country, Donaldson said the team felt far from discouraged.

“I think we’re pretty pleased with second place,” she said. “Of course we want to win. That’s the ultimate goal. But we’re very pleased with the effort we gave.”

Joslyn Woodard ’06, far left, competes in the 60-meter dash Dec. 3. Woodard won three events at Heps this weekend, raising her record career total to 10.
Beth Ramenofsky
Joslyn Woodard ’06, far left, competes in the 60-meter dash Dec. 3. Woodard won three events at Heps this weekend, raising her record career total to 10.

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