Although both the Crimson men and women’s teams fell to Boston College on Saturday, Harvard had runners—and more importantly scorers—in every event. Last year, the Crimson struggled to find healthy sprinters who could grab valuable points.
During the first meet this weekend, Harvard’s performance suggested that this season might be a different story, although its size will still be an issue.
“We had several performances that surpassed expectations yesterday, but we are not a deep team,” co-captain Kristoffer Hinson said. “In fact, I think that there are around only 40 people on the roster. Without the depth, it is difficult to do well at dual meets, but we should fare better at larger meets where the points are spread out among several teams.”
Over the 15 events run on Saturday, the men lost by just two points—by a final score of 70-68—while the women fared slightly worse, falling 77-50.
Next Saturday, the Crimson hosts the Harvard Invitational.
In the meet on Saturday, two points were the difference between first and second place.
Unfortunately for Harvard, this point-difference of one position in one race was enough to keep the squad from beating BC.
In the sprinting events, the Crimson took 15 points, winning both the 200-meter and 500-meter races. In the former, freshman William McMullen took home the victory in a time of 22.94 seconds, while junior John Ford won the longer sprint in a time of 1:07.94.
Harvard also won the 4x400-meter relay, edging BC by just two seconds.
Due to key injuries last year, Harvard’s sprinting core was depleted and it struggled to earn points in those events.
The injured include current co-captain Alasdair McLean-Foreman, Christopher Ware, and senior Andrew Tekky Jaja.
An influx of skilled freshmen—both in sprinting and long-distance events—gave the Crimson the boost it needed to stay in contention with BC.
“I feel that this is a team that will be greatly improved from a year ago,” Hinson said. “I think we’ll see a lot more guys qualify for regionals and score at the Heptagonals.”
Freshman Christopher Green, after an impressive cross-country season, posted an equally impressive performance by winning the 800-meter event, finishing in a time of 1:55.40.
In the field events, Hinson took home first in the shot put while Harvard swept the weight throw with a one-two-three punch of junior James Rhodes and sophomores James Ayers and Matt Niemczak. Rhodes’ winning throw registered at 15.62 meters, and was a personal best for him.
“I was impressed by James Rhodes—that was a personal best for him but still far below what he’ll throw this season,” Hinson said.
In the jumping events, senior Samyr Laine won the triple jump.
As with the men, the women’s team still scored the majority of its points in the long-distance and field events, but found a boost from its sprinters and hurdlers.
Freshman Chidimma Kalu won the 60-meter hurdles in 7.85 seconds and the 200-meter dash in 25.65 seconds. Junior Stephie De Groff just trailed Kalu in both, finishing in third in the hurdling event and second in the 200-meter dash.
Kalu was not the only younger athlete who came through in a strong way on Saturday, with a number of freshmen and sophomores finding their stride early in the season.
In the sprints, freshman Julia Rozier won a two-woman 400-meter race, posting a time of 58.77 seconds.
Freshmen Lindsey Scherf, fresh off of an amazing cross country campaign, won the 5000-meter in a time of 16:20.88. She outpaced the nearest competitor by 19 seconds.
“The freshman class was amazing in cross-country which should translate nicely into the middle and distance events,” Musante said. “It’s great to get some new blood, especially in the shorter events.”
It was the same story for Harvard in the field events.
Sophomore Sandra Stankovic led the way in the field events, winning the high jump by clearing a height of 1.65 meters. Freshman Jitka Vinduskova finished third in that event with a jump of 1.60 meters to go along with her second-place finish in the shot put.
“I am really excited to see how the freshman will add to the team in track,” Musante said. “I think its going to be a great season.”
One of the killers for the Crimson was losing to Boston College in both of the relays, falling by over 10 seconds in both the 4x400-meter and 4x800-meter races. By themselves, these two races represented an eight-point swing in the meet standings.
—Staff writer Gabriel M. Velez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.