Track and Field Athletes Compete at BU, Columbia
Fresh off a pair of top-three finishes at last weekend’s Indoor Heptagonal Championships, the qualifying members of the Harvard track and field team headed across the river to Boston University to compete in the ECAC/IC4A Indoor Championships.
The squad’s standouts were up against stiffer competition than at Heps, which the women’s team won for the first time since 2000, but managed to turn in a number of strong individual performances. The Crimson women tallied 20 team points, which was good for 11th place, while the men finished in 18th place after recording 17 points on the weekend.
“They call ECAC’s the ‘last chance meet’ for people who are trying to qualify for nationals,” senior Mary Hirst said. “There’s not as much of a team aspect as there is at Heps.”
Senior pole vaulter Nico Weiler earned Harvard’s lone individual victory of the weekend, as he cleared 5.30 meters to take first place. The competition had a starting height of 4.80 meters, but Weiler elected to not make an attempt until the bar was set at 5.30 meters. At that point, only Connecticut junior Cory Duggan—who finished in second place—was in the competition.
Weiler cleared the height on his first attempt, and Duggan elected to wait until the bar was raised to 5.44 meters to participate. Both competitors were unsuccessful in their efforts, and Weiler was granted first place for his 5.30-meter clearance.
“I think [Weiler] is capable of some tremendously special things,” Crimson coach Jason Saretsky said. “He’s just a phenomenal competitor.”
Despite his standout performances this season, the senior did not qualify for next weekend’s NCAA Indoor Championships.
“I think the outdoor system plays more to his strengths as a competitor—the indoor season is really just about hitting a mark,” Saretsky said.
On the women’s side, junior co-captain Adabelle Ekechukwu, who owns both the school and Ivy League record in the weight throw, took second place in the event behind Connecticut’s Victoria Flowers. Ekechukwu, who is also a Crimson photography and multimedia editor, earned eight team points for the performance.
The squad’s other co-captain, senior Sydnie Leroy, also picked up points for the squad in the pole vault. Leroy, who holds the school record in the event with a mark of 3.91 meters, cleared 3.75 meters on her first attempt to earn sixth place. George Mason’s Mandissa Marshall won the event with a meet-record vault of 4.23 meters.
“[Ekechukwu and Leroy] both just stepped up tremendously this year,” Saretsky said. “The level of consistency is what’s really impressed me. Every meet, we can go out there and count on them to lead us, not just with their captaincy, but with their performances.”
Hirst, another veteran of the women’s team, nearly broke her personal-best mark in the high jump on Saturday. Hirst, who holds the fifth-best jump in school history at 1.80 meters, cleared 1.78 meters, which was good for second place, her career-best finish at the ECAC meet.
“She’s been over her best [height] from last year I don’t even know how many times,” Saretsky said. “It’s incredible how consistent she’s been this season.”
The senior was topped by Connecticut’s Ilva Bikanova, who was one of four athletes to clear 1.78 meters. Bikanova finished the competition with one fewer miss than Hirst, earning her the event crown.
“Four people finishing at one height is kind of unusual,” Hirst said. “That’s why it’s so important to have first-attempt clearances.”