Harvard’s winter track season was defined by broken records. Week after week, Harvard runners and field competitors etched their names in the record books, and after the first meet of the spring season it seems like nothing has changed.
This weekend, the Crimson track and field program headed to Houston, Tex., to compete at the Texas Southern Relays. Overall, three program records fell or were matched over the two days of competition. The men and women combined for eight first place finishes, with the women excelling on the track and the men impressing on the field.
“We go down to Texas each year primarily for the warm weather, some spring training, and it’s nice to also have a competition while we’re down there,” Harvard coach Jason Saretsky said. “The way our student athletes competed and the performances they were able to achieve were nothing short of spectacular.”
The transition to the spring season also includes a shift of some events. On the track, some of the sprint events change distances while in the field, athletes compete in the hammer throw, discus, and javelin, which is different from the winter season.
During the winter season, junior Danielle Barbian broke her own record multiple times in the 60-meter dash, ending the season with a time of 7.44 in the Ivy championship race. In Texas, Barbian added her name once more for the 100-meter dash record, claiming the top of the podium with a time of 11.65. Junior Ashley Collinsworth may not have been able to catch up to her teammate, but her third place finish of 11.83 seconds put her at third in the Harvard record books and was a personal best.
Barbian and Collinsworth also joined freshman Sylvia Deppen and sophomore Autumne Franklin for the first place 4x100 meter relay. The team crossed the line in a program-record 46.27 seconds, a mark that Franklin and the Crimson intend to lower come the championship season.
“[The record] is not really in my head because my goal right now isn’t to break any records in the first meet,” Franklin said. “For the 4x100, our record was really, really, slow and we intend to demolish it, so breaking the record doesn’t really resonate with us…. We know we can do so much better than that.”
On the individual side, Franklin was victorious in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 59.25, edging out teammate freshman Jackie Modesett by a little over a second.
Franklin and Modesett weren’t the only teammates to stand together in the top three.
On the men’s side, junior Ben Glauser and senior Dustin Brode took first and third, respectively, in the hammer throw.
In the shot put, Brode and junior Igor Liokumovich took first and second.
Junior Malcolm Mason Rodriguez and freshman Efe Uwaifo took the second and third spots in the triple jump.
With the outdoor season in full swing for the track program, runners and throwers must transition to competing in the elements. While it doesn’t feel like spring yet in Cambridge, the Texas heat was an issue on the second day of competition. Wind was a factor in the evening events.
“The first day, the weather was pretty perfect—you couldn’t complain about it,” Franklin said. “The second day it was really hot. You had to modify your warm ups, drink a lot more water, and kind of not let the exhaustion get to you.”
Harvard athletes took advantage of the few bye weeks following the indoor championship meets. After an intense period of training, the Crimson began the outdoor season perhaps a little sorer than usual.
“If anything, I like to have a lighter schedule when we get to the season because you have to kind of get used to it and its also some time to get some really good training in,” Franklin said. “I was joking with my teammates saying that it felt like fall training all over again the week after Heps because everything we did hurt.”
The team will compete next in the Snowflake Classic next weekend at Tufts. The meet will give the athletes a chance to compete locally before spending most of the season on the road.
“We as a coaching staff take a very concerted effort to make sure our student athletes have the right balance,” Saretsky said. “We pick and choose our spots wisely so that we’re not on the road too much. We are very selective about who competes where.”
—Staff writer Theresa C. Hebert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.