SEASON RECAP: Harvard Runners Reach New Heights in Ivy League

Individuals shine as team notches pair of fourth-place finishes at indoor Heps

Weeks Footbridge
Michael E. Danto

Freshman Olivia Weeks, who finished seventh in the long jump at the outdoor Heptagonal Championships, was part of a strong freshman class for the women’s track team. Rookies Ashtynn Baltimore, Melissa Bellin, and Mary Hirst all recorded top-six finishes at Heps, where the team placed seventh.

Although every team hopes to improve upon its past performances and to move up in the rankings, it’s a difficult feat to accomplish. But the cross-country and track teams did just that, recording many strong individual and team results this season.

“In the past couple of years, there was a feeling that we were heading in the right direction, but this year we actually started moving that way,” said track and field co-captain Jack Brady. “We made up a lot of ground...and we are in the right place to really get after the top couple of teams in the league.”

The cross-country teams started out the season on the right foot, with both the men’s and women’s squads seeded in the top eight in the preseason regional rankings and the women’s team eventually climbing to third.

The men’s squad finished 13th at the IC4A meet and had three top-10 finishes during the season, placing sixth at the Heptagonal Championships and 10th at NCAA Regionals and the UAlbany Invitational. Junior Dan Chenoweth led the team by claiming the Ivy League individual crown, earning All-Ivy and all-region honors, and crossing the line with a 42nd-place finish at the NCAA Championships—his second consecutive top-45 finish at the event.

The women’s squad earned numerous top-12 finishes throughout the season, taking second at the Heptagonal Championships—the team’s best result in the meet since 1995. The squad also took the crown at the Iona Meet of Champions, finished fifth at NCAA Regionals, and earned a ninth-place finish at the ECAC Championships. There were strong individual performances at the NCAA Championships as well, with junior Claire Richardson and sophomore Kailyn Kuzmuk placing 100th and 185th, respectively. Richardson and freshman Sammy Silva earned All-Ivy League honors, and Richardson, Kuzmuk, and Silva were awarded all-region accolades.

“The women’s team took a huge step, and we really came together,” Richardson said. “We really learned how to run as a team, and people were pretty inspired.”

The momentum of the program carried on into the winter indoor track season. Both the men’s and women’s teams captured titles at the Battle of Beantown, a meet against Boston University, Boston College, and Northeastern held at Gordon Indoor Track this year.

Both teams followed this showing by placing fourth at the Indoor Heptagonal Championships, marking an improvement of four positions from the team’s eighth-place finishes when the current seniors were freshmen.

“Watching how far we’ve come as a team was obviously very special to me,” Brady said. “Seeing everyone reap the benefits of [their time and effort] has been extremely gratifying.”

The teams finished out the season with the men’s squad tying for 27th at the IC4A meet, and the women coming in 16th in the ECAC competition. The men’s distance medley relay team took the title in the meet and clocked in the second-fastest time in school history at 9:44.18, while the women’s distance medley relay team finished third and broke the school record at 11:34.03.

The outdoor spring track season featured several outstanding individual and team performances. At the Penn Relays, both the women’s distance medley relay team and the 4x800-meter relay team broke the school records for their separate events and won collegiate titles, posting times of 11:21.31 and 8:46.98, respectively. Richardson also toppled the school record for the 3K at the ECAC Championships, finishing second in 9:23.03.

The teams ended the season with a pair of seventh-place finishes at the Heptagonal Championships, and the men’s team tied for 51st at the IC4A meet, while the women came in 31st in the ECAC competition.

“I thought our team as a whole really came together and competed hard,” Crimson coach Jason Saretsky said. “I’m really proud of the effort that we had throughout the entire year.”

“Our sport is somewhat unique in that it is really six sports—six different teams—but at the same time, it is all one big family and continually competing,” he added. “There were a lot of incredible moments and highlights and things that we as a group feel really proud of...We want to continue to build on that but also continue to enjoy the pursuit of our goals and...[to compete] in the sport that we love.”

—Staff writer Stephanie E. Herwatt can be reached at sherwatt@college.harvard.edu.

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