Track Teams Bore As Gyorffy Soars
Young teams present the most intriguing of coaching challenges. While lack of experience can spell disaster, lack of expectations can lead to surprising success. With the opening of the indoor track and field season, veteran Coach Frank Haggerty '68, would soon learn how his men's and women's teams would respond.
Buoyed by strong but small senior and junior classes, the underclassmen consistently proved that poise does not necessarily depend upon age. Time and again, fantastic freshmen turned in solid performances, winning events and significantly contributing to the success of their teams.
The most noteworthy newcomer to the Crimson was freshman phenom Dora Gyorffy, whose gravity-defying ability helped her dominate the high jump event throughout the year. A national champion in her native Hungary, Gyorffy made an instant splash on American soil.
In her first meet representing Harvard this past December, she decimated two school records, clearing 6'2" in the high jump and soaring 40'8 1/4" in the triple jump. By the end of the indoor season, Gyorffy would add Heptagonal and ECAC victories to her list of accomplishments--which she would repeat during the outdoor season--as well as a third place finish at the NCAA championship indoor meet.
With the indoor season nearing its end, the team traveled to Princeton to compete in Heptagonals, which serves as the Ivy League championship meet. Both the men's and women's teams finished low in the overall standings--seventh and fifth, respectively. However, several Harvard athletes turned in strong individual performances.
Coach: Frank Haggerty '68
Highlights: Dora Gyorffy wins high jump at ECACs, Heps, Penn Relays, places third at NCAAs
Seniors: Margaret Angell, Jenny Berrien, Jennifer Bolstad, Ali Goldkamp, Kevin Johnson, Justin Nowell, Heather Stroud
At ECACs, the women's conference championship meet, the team was again paced by Gyorffy's high jump win. Co-captains Ali Goldkamp and Margaret Angell, who qualified for the 800-meter and mile finals, respectively, also impressed. The 4x400-meter relay team, including Goldkamp, freshmen Brenda Taylor and Marna Schutte and junior Heather Hanson, also broke the school record with a time of 3:46.23.
On the men's side, junior co-captain Joe Ciollo set a personal record in the 500 meter with a time of 1:03.88, finishing fourth in the conference championship IC4As.
Spring break gave both teams a chance to regroup and re-energize before the beginning of the outdoor season. Completing a rigorous two-a-day practice schedule in the balmy Houston heat, each team looked with optimism toward a successful spring.
"The team's as strong as it [has] been in four years, and we're ready to do better than we did indoors," Angell said.
The Penn Relays marked the first of the major outdoor meets for Harvard, a national competition second only to the NCAAs in importance and prestige. Gyorffy again proved that she was equal to the task at hand, defeating defending national high jump champion Erin Aldrich of the University of Texas. For the men, freshman Chris Clever placed sixth in the hammer throw.
In early May, the Crimson competed in outdoor Heps. Although both teams placed sixth in the overall standings, several noteworthy individual performances stood out.
Heps marked a turning point for the men, as the team managed to double last year's point total. Junior Scott Muoio, a consistent point-winner all season, finished third in the steeplechase and fourth in the 5000 meter. Clever placed second in the hammer, freshman Arthur Fergusson finished third in the triple jump, and sophomore Darren Dinneen finished fourth in the 800 meter.
On the women's side, the Crimson were paced by Angell, runner-up in the 1500 meter, and Goldkamp, who notched a third place finish in the 800 meter. Senior Jenny Berrien also ran well, finishing fourth in the 100-meter hurdles.
The day, however, highlighted the dominance of Harvard's rookie class, as three freshmen secured victories in their events. Gyorffy continued to dominate the high jump, leaping an impressive 1.92 meters, just one centimeter shy of her personal best. The jump was good enough to automatically qualify her for the NCAA Championships, which began at SUNY-Buffalo yesterday and continue until Saturday.
Schutte broke the tape in the 400 meter while Brenda Taylor was victorious in the 400-meter hurdles.
In May, both teams traveled to George Mason University to compete in their respective conference championships. At ECACs, Gyorffy earned the only points for the Harvard women, winning the high jump with a leap of 1.87 meters and setting new meet and stadium records.
In IC4As, two men secured sixth-place finishes in their events. Muoio concluded his season with a strong showing in the 3000-meter steeplechase, breaking the nine-minute mark with an impressive time of 8:59.68. Clever continued to fare well in the field events, placing sixth in the javelin.
Looking back on the season, Goldkamp expressed some disappointment with the team's performance but remains optimistic about next year.
"Overall, we didn't do as well as we hoped we would," said Goldkamp of the outdoor season. "The freshmen started to do really well in the spring. They had a big adjustment to make, but by the spring they were doing much better. The future certainly looks promising."
The men also look toward the future with confidence, predicting marked improvements over this year's performance.
"We're only graduating a handful of seniors, and 95 percent of the team is coming back, so we'll have a lot of veterans on the team next year and should be right up there in the hunt with everyone else," Ciollo said.