This weekend the women of Harvard Track and Field competed in meets from Boston to Texas, notching high finishes in early season outings.
The events were the team’s first away competitions and many freshmen made their collegiate road debuts.
"I think everybody’s learning about themselves,” freshman Autumne Franklin said. “I think these early-season meets are mostly learning experiences, and that’s what they’re there for…. You always get better because you learn about yourself and how to fix things and tweak this and tweak that to make yourself a greater athlete.”
BU Terrier Invitational
The Crimson traveled across town to the BU Track and Tennis Center for the BU Terrier Invitational on Friday and Saturday, where the team turned in a variety of results.
In a close race, the Harvard ‘A’ team won the 4x400m relay race with a time of 3:44.08, eclipsing a quad from the University of Connecticut by 0.43 seconds. The finish was less than a second from the school record. The winning group included two freshmen, Franklin and Christi Scott, while the ‘B’ team, which placed 13th among the 41 entries, included three rookies, Ali Monfre, Julia Kee and Madison Hansen.
“The four-by-four is one of those bookend events,” Harvard coach Jared Saretsky said. “It almost always ends the meet. We take a lot of pride in having a strong one, and they’ve been working really hard. I know they’re excited to take another crack at the school record.”
The Crimson also raced itself onto the podium in the 400m dash. Sophomore Gabrielle Scott raced to third place in 55.34 seconds. Franklin trailed her by 0.78 seconds and finished in fifth.
“I kind of stepped out of my comfort zone for the first time in a while and so I’m proud of myself for that,” Franklin said. “My four-by-four split was better than my open four because I ran a smarter race in the four-by-four, but at least I know I can actually do it in my open four. I sort of got out too hard in my four hundred and couldn’t maintain it in the end.”
Veteran Sydnie Leroy cleared 3.70 meters to take second play in the pole vault behind Claire Dishong of Cornell. The senior was just short of her personal best of 3.80m, the height Dishong achieved to win the competition.
Harvard found another second place finisher in sophomore Molly Renfer. Renfer completed the 800m run in 2:09.53, just under a second slower than winner Lorain McKenzie, an unattached runner who graduated from the University of Florida in 2008. Renfer was joined in the top ten by freshman Paige Kouba whose time of 2:11.58 placed her in sixth.
Sophomore Ashley Collinsworth was three places from the finals of the 60m dash, which only allows a field of nine runners. She raced to a twelfth place finish in 7.86 seconds, .10 seconds off her personal best.
Texas A&M Mondo Challenge
A pair of Harvard women captured top-five finishes in the pentathlon at the Texas A&M Mondo Challenge on Friday and Saturday at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Station, Tex.
Freshman Martina Salander finished second overall with 4094 points out of a field of seven competitors and was followed in fourth by senior Mary Hirst with 3583 points. Senior Keia Pinnick of Arizona State University, who led with 4208 points, won the field. Pinnick won four of the five events in the competition.
Salander won the shot put event. Her second throw of 13.59m launched her ahead of the competition. She put the shot 1.43m further than the second place finisher, sophomore Annie Kunz of Texas A&M. Hirst rounded out the top three with a throw of 12.03m.
Salander notched second place finishes in the 800m run and the long jump and was third in the 60m hurdles and high jump. Hirst leapt into second place in the high jump, clearing 1.72m and trailed her teammate in the other events, placing fourth in the long jump, fifth in the 800m run and sixth in the 60m hurdles.
“I would say I was really pleased with how both performed,” Saretsky said. “It was a great opportunity to go out to Texas and face some national level competition. Mary came away with a lifetime best and Martina broke our school record and is believe, now ranked third in the country so not too shabby.”
—Staff writer Cordelia F. Mendez can be reached at email@example.com.