A week before the Heptagonal Championships, the Harvard track and field team participated cautiously at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Invitational. While the non-scoring event this past weekend proved to be a stable stepping stone for the Crimson women, the Harvard men were saving their best for Heptagonals.
Freshman Favia Merritt set the standard early for the women, claiming two of the Crimson’s seven first-place finishes. Only .04 seconds behind, freshman Brittan Smith earned second after Merritt in the 200-meter race. Smith later snagged the top spot in the long jump with a distance of 5.22 meters.
After following Merritt in the No. 2 slot in the 100-meter dash, fellow freshman Dara Wilson grabbed her own first-place win, mastering the 100-meter hurdles in 15.23 seconds.
Captain Laura Maludzinski remained consistent, taking first for the fourth straight competition. She led the 1-2-3 Harvard finish in the 800-meter with a 2:12:42 showing.
“I’m just trying to get qualifying times for ECAC and regionals,” Maludzinski said. “[Yale] was so close the whole day...it came down to the last couple of events and they ended up taking over. We’ll have to come back and get them even more at Heps. It just added more fuel to the fire. It gives us more incentive to attack.”
On the field, the Crimson controlled the high jump as well, capturing four of the top five spots.
Junior Erika Helbling added to Harvard’s wealth of firsts, topping the 3000-meter steeplechase.
Despite a week’s worth of Heptagonals preparation, the Crimson men were unable to claim first in any of the Wildcat Invitational’s 19 events.
Freshman Derek Jones ran 29.25 seconds in the 400-meter to earn second-place standing, and sophomore Alex Lewis got caught in the midst of a three-way tie for second with a 1.93-meter performance in the high jump.
Other than those few instances, Harvard found it difficult to break into the top 10.
However, the Crimson was without the guiding forces of seniors Travis Hughes and Lawrence Adjah, who were busy competing in the nationally acclaimed Penn Relays.
Hughes and Adjah took first and second, respectively, in the college men’s triple jump in the Relays’ Eastern division.
Although captain Samyr Laine, still plagued by a “freak” leg injury, was unable to compete at either Penn or New Hampshire, he nonetheless flew out to cheer on Hughes and Adjah at the Relays.
“I haven’t decided yet if I’m competing in Heps,” Laine said. “I might have to grit my teeth and bear a little pain. As usual, we don’t have the numbers most teams have—Cornell has three to four times as many members. And Heps is the culmination of the outdoor season.”
Heptagonals will take place in Philadelphia next Saturday and Sunday on the same track that hosted the Penn Relays this weekend.