NEW YORK — With the 2022 season quickly approaching Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Daniel Ireland has announced the incoming Class of 2026 for Columbia cross country, with the class of 20 incoming student-athletes being split almost evenly into nine women and 11 men.
A successful and decorated group, the incoming class joins a group of Lions ready to build on last season’s successes. During the 2022 season, Columbia sent a pair of Lions to nationals, and the men had their best finish (fifth) since 2017 at the northeast regionals.
Myla AbernathyMiddle Distance, Barnard College (Catonsville, Catonsville, Md.): A letterwinner in track at Catonsville High School in Catonsville, Maryland, Abernathy was named the 2022 Baltimore County Public Schools Girls Track Athlete of the Year and won the 2022 Baltimore Country Public Schools title in the outdoor 800m, 1600m and 3200m. She leaves Catonsville High School holding school records in the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m.
Rory ClareMiddle Distance, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (Wellesley, Wellesley, Mass.): Winner of multiple letters in track and soccer at Wellesley High School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Clare was named a 2022 New Balance Indoor All-American (SMR), a 2021 USATF Junior Olympics All-American (800m) and a 2021 NSAF Outdoor All- American (mixed 4x400m). In 2022 she won an Indoor Massachusetts State Championship (1000m) and was a member of the 2022 Division Two Outdoor State Championship squad.
Clare was a two-time Baystate Conference MVP and she leaves Wellesley High School with five records. In 2022 she was named to the Boston Globe and Boston Herald All-Scholastic teams and earned 2021 All-New England and All-Massachusetts honors in soccer.
Lucy HenkelMiddle Distance, Columbia College (Radnor, Wayne, Pa.): Henkel was a multi-sport letterwinner in soccer (two) and track (five) at Radnor High School in Radnor, Pennsylvania and she earned outdoor track first team All-county honors her junior and senior years and earned first-team indoor track All- County honors in indoor track following her senior season. Henkel leaves Radnor with the record in the mile and was a team captain for both the indoor and outdoor track squads during her junior and senior seasons.
Daniela QuinteroMiddle Distance, Columbia College (Harvard-Westlake, Studio City, Calif.): A multi-sport athlete in cross country, track, and soccer at Harvard Westlake in Studio City, California, Quintero was a Cross Country Mission League Champion and was named a three-time Mission League Cross Country MVP. Five times in her career she was a Mission League Champion in track, an eight-time CIF Finalist in track, and a CIF State Meet Finalist.
Caroline SchleifMiddle Distance, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (Harvard-Westlake, Studio City, Calif.): Winning multiple letters in cross country, track, and swimming at Metuchen High School in Metuchen, New Jersey, Schleig was a 2022 USATF Indoor Youth Nationals 3000m Champion, two-time 2022 New Jersey Group 2 Indoor Champion (1600m/3200m) and a 2020 Cross Country New Jersey Central Jersey Sectional Champion. She also won three 2022 Indoor New Jersey Central Jersey Sectional championships (1600m/3200m/4x400m) and was a four-time Outdoor New Jersey Central Jersey Sectional Champion (4x800m [2019/2021/2022]; 800m ).
In 2020 she was the Greater Middlesex Conference Champions (GMC) in cross country and she took the GMC title in the 800m (2018/2022); 1600m (2018/2021) and the 4x800m (2022). She was a 2022 Indoor Track New Jersey State Championship squad member and helped the 2018 Cross Country squad take the New Jersey State title.
Naomi ToftMiddle Distance, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (Latymer Upper School, London, England): Toft ran cross country and track at Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom. She was crowned the 2019 U17 England National Indoor Champion (1500m) and U17 London Indoor Champion (800m). In 2018 she won the U15 Danish National Championship (800m/1500m) and in 2017 Toft took home the U13 Virgin London Mini Marathon UK Championship (3-Mile) and the U13 Westminster Mile UK Championship (One-Mile).
Elijah Ton-ThatDistance, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (Northside College Prep, Chicago, Ill.): Ton-That was an eight-time letter winner in both track and cross country at Northside College Prep in Chicago, Illinois, twice being named a Junior Olympics All-American (3000m/1500m) and in 2021 she was crowned an Illinois State Champion (1600m ). A two-time Chicago Public League Cross Country City Champion and four-time Chicago Public League champion (800m/4x800m/1600m/3200m), Ton-That was named to the IHSA All-State Academic Team.
Susan JimenezDistance, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (Brooklyn Technical, Brooklyn, NY)
Farah OsmanDistance, Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (Brooklyn Technical, Brooklyn, NY)
Walker BeverlyMiddle Distance, Columbia College (Hall, West Hartford, Conn.): Winning seven letters in cross country and track & field at William H. Hall in West Hartford, Connecticut, Beverly earned 2021 All-New England Cross Country and All-New England Outdoor Track & Field honors and twice he earned All-State honors in cross countries (2020-21).
Brett BishopDistance, Columbia College (Douglass Freeman, Henrico, Va.): Bishop won eight letters in cross country (three) and track & field (five) at Southall Freeman High School in Henrico, Virginia where he won the 2021 spring Virginia Cross Country State championship and took home the 2022 Virginia Indoor Track & Field State championship in the 1000m and the 1600m. Following the 2021 season, he was named the Metro Runner of the Year and he was the 2022 Class 5 Indoor Runner of the Year and the 2022 Richmond Scholar Athlete of the Year runner-up.
Edward BlahaDistance, Columbia College (Pace Academy, Atlanta, Ga.): A 10-time letterwinner in cross country (four), track (four), and wrestling (two) at Pace Academy in Atlanta, Blaha was a two-time Georgia state cross country champion (2020-21) and he helped the team win the 2021 Georgia state championship. A two-time state champion in track, winning the 2021 title in the 3200m and being a member of the 4x800m title-winning squad, Blaha also helped his track team win two state titles (2021-22).
He was a member of the 2021 cross country team championship squad, and he finished fourth in the 3200m at the Runninglane Track Championships. He left Pace Academy with school records in the 5K, 3200m, and the 4x800m.
George BlahaDistance, Columbia College (Pace Academy, Atlanta, Ga.): Blaha won 10 letters in cross country (four), track (four), and wrestling (two) at Pace Academy in Atlanta and was a member of the 2021 cross country Georgia state championship squad. He helped the track team win a pair of Georgia state championships in 2021 and 2022 and was on the 4x800m squad that won the 2022 Georgia state championship.
Blaha leaves Pace with team records in the 4x800m and 4x1600m. Along with his successes in track and cross country, Blaha also qualified twice for states in wrestling at 113 pounds and finished sixth at the 2022 Georgia Wrestling State Championships at 113 pounds.
Jack CaseyDistance, Columbia College (LaSalle Academy, Cumberland, RI): An eight-time letterwinner in cross country and track, Casey was the 2021 Rhode Island Class A Cross Country Champion and earned All-State honors three times in cross country. Member of the 2020 Nike Cross Country Regional Champions, Casey helped his squad place sixth at the 2022 Nike Cross Country Nationals and was a member of the two-time Cross Country State (2020/21) and Class A Champions, along with helping the 2022 squad win the New England Cross Country Championship.
Max DooleyMiddle Distance, Columbia College (Radnor, Wanye, Pa.): A letterwinner in cross country and track & field at Radnor High School in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Dooley was a member of the 2021 4x400m state championship-winning squad and won the 1600m at the 2021 Delco Championships. He added 2021 first-team All-Central league honors (4x800m).
Matt GatuneDistance, Columbia College (Polytechnic, Woodside, Del.): Winner of 11 letters in cross country (four) and track (seven), Gatune was a three-time Delaware State Champion in the 800m (2021-22), a two-time state champion in the 4x800m (2021-22) and a 2022 State champion in the 1600m and the 4x400m. He helped his team be the runners-up at the 2022 outdoor state and conference championships and was a member of the 2021 cross country conference runners-up.
Three times Gatune earned All-Conference honors in cross country, twice named All-State in cross country, and is a four-time All-State honoree in indoor and outdoor track. Gatune leaves Polytechnic with 12 school records.
Ian NobleDistance, Columbia College (Virginia, Lighthouse Point, Fla.) A transfer from Virginia, Noble did not compete in any races while spending one season at Virginia. A multi-sport letterwinner in cross country, track and field, and basketball at Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, Florida, Noble earned first-team All-Palm Beach County honors in cross country and track from 2019-21 and was the Palm League Athlete Scholar of the Year (2019-20).
A member of Saint Andrews’s School’s six straight cross country district championships (2015-21), Noble was also a part of the 2021 cross country regional championship squad.
Austin Rios-ColonMiddle Distance, Columbia College (St. John’s College, Washington, DC): Rios-Colon won multiple letters in cross country and track and field at St. John’s College High School in Washington DC He won the 2022 DCSAA State championship (800m) and is a four-time DCSAA 4x800m champion in both indoor (2020/2022) and outdoor (2021/2022).
He earned 2022 All-Met Washington Post honors and helped the cross country squad win the 2021 WCAC and DCSAA Championships. A member of the two-time DCSAA Indoor Track & Field Championship (2020/2022) and DCSAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship (2021/2022) squads, Rios-Colon leaves St. John’s College High School with five school records.
Jacob Van OrdenMiddle Distance, Columbia College (Highland, Pocatello, Id.): An eight-time letterwinner in cross country and track at Highland High School in Pocatello, Idaho, Van Orden won the 2022 Idaho State Championship in the 800m and earned All-State honors in track and cross country. He was named the “Idaho Track Athlete of the Year” and added All-Area first-team honors in the 800m.
Lawson McLeodMiddle Distance, Columbia College (Jesuit, Tampa, Fla.)
FOLLOWING THE LIONS: Stay up to date on all things Columbia track & Field by following the Lions on Twitter (@CULionsXCTF), Instagram (@culionsxctf), and on Facebook (@ColumbiaAthletics).