Coming into the 2011-12 season, the Harvard men’s track and field team boasted one of the strongest recruiting classes in the history of the Ivy League. Ranked No. 5 by Track and Field News, the squad’s rookies included some of the best young throwers, sprinters, and distance runners in the country.
And though it was experience that carried the Crimson during the regular season, Harvard’s group of talented first-years stepped up in a big way at this weekend’s Outdoor Heptagonal Championships.
Freshmen scored 46 of the men’s team’s 92.75 points at Heps, hosted at Penn’s Franklin Field. The point total was good for third place in the Ancient Eight, behind second-place Cornell and Princeton—the weekend’s heavy favorites—which finished with a whopping 183 points.
“Pretty much everybody had the best meet of their life,” freshman thrower Ben Glauser said. “The future is pretty bright for us.”
While the men’s team was buoyed by the performances of its gifted freshmen, the Crimson women had a more disappointing weekend, finishing in sixth place with 71 points. Cornell and Princeton were also at the top of the women’s team standings, finishing in first and second, respectively.
“Overall, [our women’s team] is just young,” Harvard coach Jason Saretsky said. “We’re relying on a lot of freshmen and sophomores. Some of them were able to come through, and others struggled a bit more…. But I think the women’s team is on the verge of something big.”
Junior Nico Weiler, who was favored to take home the pole vault title this weekend, failed to clear the bar in each of his three attempts and finished in a three-way tie for last place in the event.
The men’s pole vault began with the bar set at a height of 4.50 meters. Weiler elected to pass until the bar was raised to 5.12 meters, a height that only Cornell’s Peter Roach was able to clear. When Weiler, who holds the school record with a 5.36-meter clearance, scratched three times, Roach became the Ivy champion.
“The pole vault is one of those crazy events where the slightest little thing can go wrong and it can undo things,” Saretsky said.
With Weiler unable to provide crucial points for the team, Harvard needed its throwers to come up big in the shot put, discus, javelin, and hammer throw.
Luckily for the Crimson, that’s exactly what they did. Glauser and classmates Igor Liokumovich, and Dean Sullivan, as well as sophomore thrower Dustin Brode, combined for 49 points on the weekend.
Glauser had perhaps Harvard’s best individual outing at the championship meet, taking second place in both the shot put and the hammer throw. Glauser recorded a mark of 17.97 meters in the shot put and threw 59.45 meters in the hammer.
Glauser’s mark in the hammer throw, which was his personal best and ninth best in school history, was a massive 12.68 meters shorter than that of Princeton’s Conor McCullough, who is currently the national leader in the event.
“[Finishing in] first place in the hammer was not really realistic,” Glauser said. “To say that [McCullough] is a living legend would be an understatement.”
Brode, the defending outdoor Heps champion in the shot put, finished in third place in the event with a 17.39-meter hurl. Coming off his best performance of the year at last weekend’s Penn Relays, the sophomore was never able to settle down in the ring, as he fouled in four of his six attempts.