W. Track Tops Yale With Heptagonals on Horizon

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Junior Thomas Wolf competes in the high jump during the Crimson’s meet with Yale on Saturday afternoon. Harvard fell 97.5-61.5 to the Elis, despite several strong individual performances.

In indoor season, the Harvard men’s track team surprised Yale by keeping with them in a dual meet until the very end.

On Saturday, it was the women’s team who pushed for the upset.

When the meet was over, the women had completed the shocking victory and beaten Yale, 82-80, on the Crimson’s home track for its first win of the season.

“As a result of [Saturday], we proved two things,” sophomore Mary Serdakowski said. “We proved to ourselves that we have the potential to beat very competitive teams when we give it our all. Also, we proved to the rest of the conference that we are not a joke.”

With Heptagonals on the horizon, Harvard cannot help but feel like it has staked its claim as a contender for the league championship.

On the men’s side, the Crimson was unable to put up the same number of runners as Yale in many of the running events and ultimately fell to the Elis, 97.5-61.5.

Highlighting the meet was a near record-breaking performance from sophomore Samyr Laine, who continues to assert himself in the Ivy League as the man to beat in the triple jump.

Both teams will travel south next weekend to compete in the Penn Relays, which draws elite national competition and will test Harvard’s strength.

WOMEN

Up until this point in the season, the women had not won a meet, but had seen their improving results as indicative of their potential.

On Saturday, those possibilities were realized.

“We’ve had a slow start as a result of injuries and other things, but recently, things have been feeling like they’re coming together,” Serdakowski said.

“I have never been so proud of my team and the amazing effort they put forth,” co-captain BreeAnna Gibson said. “It was an amazing victory that was not expected, but we knew it was possible. A lot of people pulled out huge performances yesterday and that is what made it possible.”

Serdakowski and her hurdling teammates provided a huge spark for the team, taking five of the top six spots in the two events. Serdakowski notched the only time under 15 seconds in the 100m hurdles at 14.87, winning the event. Two teammates, junior Eleanor Thompson and freshman Chelsae Smith—who had a strong indoor season but has been injured for much of the spring—followed in second and third respectively.

In the 400 meter race, Thompson finished off a strong double with an event-winning time of 63.73. Victoria Hendeson completed the sweep for the Crimson by passing a Yale runner within the last 10 meters to grab second in the longer hurdling event.

In the longer distance events, Harvard took home two victories in the 1,500m and the 3,000m steeplechase. Sophomore Laura Maludzinski placed first in the shorter event and junior Rosalinda Castaneda in the longer race, even after falling to the ground with less than a lap to go.

“The whole team and the spectators were watching, and we all lost our breaths for a split second,” Serdakowski said. “Then, we all started cheering very loudly for Rosie to get back up and finish the race—she had about 300 meters to go. She got up and won the race.”

“I talked to her later, and she said how much she did not want to get up because her body was so tired, but when she heard the team screaming for her to go on, she knew that she could do it.”

The biggest performance of the day, however, probably came from Gibson, the team captain. On crutches since Thursday due to a bone bruise, Gibson took home 13 points for Harvard—some of them coming in the pressure packed end of the meet.

“We were aware of the score around the end of the meet and the team came over to the discus to tell me what was going on and how important the points in each of the last four events were,” Gibson said. “This just gave me more resolve that this was a time where I had to step up and perform.”

“I realized that we had a chance to win and there was nothing that was going to keep me from being a part of my last meet against our Ivy League rivals,” she added.

Gibson took home first in the shot put and discus, and then followed with a second place finish in the hammer throw to her teammate, senior Johanna Doyle.

Gibson’s toss in the shot put was over a meter longer than her throw last week, despite the injury that hampered her practice this week.

“It was a good throw but by no means a great one,” Gibson said. “This meet for me was not about distances, but about doing what was necessary to win. Every single point was a difference maker and we knew that from the beginning. No one gave up and everyone fought for every place.”

Now the team turns its attention toward the biggest meets of the year, with Penn Relays next week and Heptagonals on May 8-9. But the spark from this past weekend has given them a new positive outlook on the possibilities for the near future.

“As Maried O’Callaghan put it so nicely after the meet,” Serdakowski said, “now, time to win Heps!”

MEN

For the men, the day was not quite as exciting, but those who did compete still put up key performances.

“You really cannot be disappointed by the outcome of the meet,” co-captain Adam Gelardi said. “Overall, everyone who we had competing performed pretty well.”

Laine performed more than “pretty well,” almost breaking a Harvard record with his triple jump mark of 15.60 meters. The jump fell a mere three inches short of the school record, and reflected Laine’s continual improvement by besting his indoor Heptagonal winning jump by a tenth of a meter. The jump sets him amongst the top 20 jumpers in the nation, according to his teammate Gelardi.

Other field eventers put up a number of point-scoring performances, earning the majority of the team’s overall points.

Sophomore Christopher Ware took the lead in the throwing events, winning both the shot put and the discus. Harvard won the other throwing event on the 55.59 meter toss by sophomore James Rhodes.

Rhode’s performance definitely impressed his teammates on the field team.

“James Rhodes had a huge day in the hammer, missing the regional qualifier by only three centimeters,” Gelardi said.

The Crimson also took home victories in the high jump, long jump and javelin—rounding out an extremely successful day all around for the field team.

The only runner on the track to grab a victory for Harvard was Timothy Galebach with a time of 15:08.64 in the 3,000m. Right on his heels were freshman Sean Barrett and junior Reed Bienvenu, finishing second and third, respectively, to sweep the race.

Next week the Crimson will leave home to compete in the Penn Relays, looking to hit stride now with the biggest part of the outdoor season coming on.

“Everyone is getting ready for Heptagonals and hopefully we can do some damage,” Gelardi said.

With almost a month left before the championships, the team has time to continue to heal and get ready to make an impact.

—Staff writer Gabriel M. Velez can be reached at gmvelez@fas.harvard.edu.

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