A perfect run

Erison Hurtault might be the greatest runner in Columbia’s history. And after being honored this spring as the University’s outstanding male senior athlete, he’s hoping now to sprint all the way to Beijing — to participate in next year’s summer Olympics.

Hurtault CC’07, a native of Aberdeen, New Jersey, is eligible to compete in the Olympics for Dominica, the Caribbean island nation where his parents were born. While the United States selects its team through time trials, Hurtault is in contact with Dominica’s coach, who says the squad will likely make a spot for him based simply on his track record.

A two-time All-American and eleven-time Ivy League champion, Hurtault won eight straight 400-meter titles — no Columbia athlete had previously won the same event at eight consecutive league meets — and holds the University records for the event in both indoor and outdoor competition. He was also a member of the 4x800-meter relay team that captured the Championship of America title this spring at the Penn Relays — Columbia’s first championship at the meet since 1938, and the first for an Ivy League squad since 1974.

Even so, Hurtault says that not long ago it was “up in the air” whether he would continue running after the end of his collegiate career. “I wanted to see how fast I would run this year,” he says. “I said at the beginning of the year that if I broke 45.5 seconds, I would continue to run, and I did that at the NCAAs.”

Indeed, Hurtault’s time of 45.4 seconds at the NCAA Championships June 8 was good for third place in the 400-meters and broke his own Columbia record as well. Later that month he placed 14th at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Indianapolis, with a time of 45.97 seconds. At a July 4 meet in Zagreb, Croatia, Hurtault placed third against international competition with a time of 46.74.

“Speaking to professionals at the meets in Europe made me really want to give it a go,” Hurtault says. “I’ve had a couple of offers to train with different coaches and athletes, including [NCAA champion] Ricardo Chambers. So I’m going to continue to run, and my goal is to see if I make it to the Olympics.”

Hurtault was at one time considering a job offer from a New York investment bank, but has temporarily set aside the world of finance. “It’s a one-year plan — we’ll see what happens,” he says. “If I run really well I might have to put that off for a while longer.”


Many happy returns

The Columbia men’s tennis team closed out its regular season with a pair of ace performances this spring, serving up back-to-back wins against the University of Pennsylvania to clinch its first NCAA Championship tournament bid since 2001. The Lions first slammed the Quakers during the regular season finale on April 29, sweeping all three doubles matches and winning three of six singles matches. That made Columbia 15–4 overall on the season, Penn 12–12, and both teams 6–1 in Ivy League play. The tie forced a playoff match the following week to determine who would claim the Ivy League champion’s automatic NCAA tournament berth. The Lions beat the Quakers at Columbia’s Dick Savitt Tennis Center, winning the doubles point and posting singles victories from Mark Clemente ’08CC, senior Paul Ratchford ’07CC, and freshman Jonathan Wong ’10CC, who finished the season 15–3 and was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year. In the four-team NCAA tournament on May 11, the Columbia men lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes, who were the Big Ten champions.


Tee totalers

Columbia women golfers commanded the fairway this spring, besting Princeton by 10 strokes to win the Ivy League Women’s Golf Championship in the team’s fourth varsity season. It was the first time in the ten-year history of the tournament that a school other than Princeton or Yale took the Ivy League title. Sara Ovadia ’09CC also became the first Columbia golfer to win the women’s individual Ivy golf championship, claiming top rank with a three-day score of 226 at 10 over par. Teammate Stevy Loy ’10CC finished second overall with a 14-over-par 230, while Carly Nathanson ’09CC finished fifth with a total of 235 strokes. All three women were named to this year’s All-Ivy League Women’s Golf Team. Alana Johnson ’07CC and Anna Cho ’10CC completed the Lions’ championship lineup. Together, the five golfers won with a three-day score of 933. Next year, the Lions will be led by former assistant men’s and women’s golf coach Kari Williams, who was promoted to head women’s golf coach at the end of the season.