As the weather gets colder, the Harvard track and field team is already starting to heat up with strong results in its indoor season opener last weekend.
The Crimson made the trek across the Charles to compete in the Harvard Open on Saturday and returned with five top-two finishes and a qualifier for both the IC4A and ECAC Championships.
“I was really pleased with how the meet went,” Harvard coach Jason Saretsky said. “I thought it was a great start to our indoor season, and it’s a really good sign for things to come.”
“This meet is always sort of a rust buster,” co-captain Brian Hill said. “We are looking to get back into competition, and it was nice to start off well. It’s part of our training, but it’s with a purpose.”
While most of the team focuses on continuing to prepare for the bulk of the regular schedule, two Crimson runners already have the post-season in sight. Only one meet was necessary for co-captain Ablorde Ashigbi and sophomore Shannon Watt to earn their individual berths into the championship season.
Ashigbi’s weight throw of 17.45 meters topped his previous two qualifying distances and guaranteed him a spot in the IC4As for the third-straight year. The mark was good for a second-place finish behind former track and field co-captain, Jack Brady, who is now a Harvard Coaching Assistant.
In the women’s shot put, Watt posted a mark of 13.67 meters, clearing the qualifying line by .17 meters for a second-place finish and a bid to the ECACs.
“It’s fantastic to be able to qualify this early in the season,” Hill said. “It shows that we’ve got a lot of athletes that are at a great level already, and it takes a lot of pressure off the rest of the season.”
Junior Darcy Wilson had his own exciting finish. Leading the one-mile event in the last lap, Wilson faced pressure from Bentley sophomore Curtis Trueb but held him off to take the title by only .05 seconds. Wilson finished with a time of 4:17.21. Seven Harvard runners placed in the top-25 of the 110-runner field.
The middle distance women also kept up the energy and strong results, with senior Hilary May crossing the line first in the 3000-meter at 10:08.54. Three Crimson women also placed in the top 10 of the one-mile, with freshman Alaina Murphy, junior Meghan Looney, and freshman Natalia Paine finishing second, ninth, and tenth, respectively.
“They did some important work in their cross-country season,” Saretsky said. “I think their hard work certainly paid off in how they were able to open the indoor track season.”
The women’s weight throw also featured some quality marks, as freshman Adabelle Ekechukwu took eighth with a toss of 14.85 meters and sophomore Chelsea Gilbert finished 16th.
With over 2,000 family members and friends filling the facility, Harvard utilized the time to post some strong results before the start of J-Term and the beginning of its regular season.
“Having this early season meet was great after a long fall of base training,” Hill said. “It’s a great outlet and a bench-mark opportunity to put up some good marks. I think that we are all ready to gear up now and really get after it. We had a session with a lot of good performances that people can build on next month, and that is what we are really going to be looking at and focusing on.”
“I thought it was exactly what we were looking for and what we wanted to do this time of the year,” Saretsky said.
—Staff writer Stephanie E. Herwatt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.