100-meter hurdles. High jump. Shot put. 200-meter dash. Long jump. Javelin. 800-meter run.
When one competes in track and field, she usually competes in one of these events. She trains day in and day out for that single event, mastering her technique.
But sophomore Madison Hansen must train in all of these events in order to succeed in the heptathlon, which is a multi-day event encompassing all seven of these events.
“It’s pretty strenuous. It can be pretty taxing, because obviously you have to prepare for seven events,” said Harvard associate head coach and heptathlon coach Kebba Tolbert. “It’s more challenging because you’ve got to switch gears more than other athletes that might not have to do that.”
This past weekend, Hansen competed at the LSU Alumni Gold meet in the heptathlon. After two days of competition, the Plano, Texas native topped the podium and represented one of several record-breaking performances for Crimson runners in the national meet.
With a final score of 5152 points, Hansen beat out unattached competitor Amber Metoyer, who had 5060 points, in order to claim the title as the top heptathlete in the meet. This was a personal best for Hansen and was good enough for the number two spot in the Harvard record books.
Prior to this weekend, Hansen held the second-best performance by a Crimson heptathlete, but improved her mark at LSU.
Last season at the Heptagonal meet on May 4th, 2013, she scored 5011 points. Mary Hirst ’13 currently holds the number one spot with 5359 points at the same Heptagonal meet last year.
Hansen was coming off of a fourth-place performance in the 100m hurdles against Yale last weekend. In that meet, she finished in 14.45 seconds.
Despite not competing in the heptathlon last weekend, the meet was still beneficial in creating momentum for this weekend’s competition, according to her.
“Competing alongside all of our teammates was really encouraging and inspiring,” Hansen said. “I think we took that inspiration into our meet this weekend at LSU.”
The first event of the heptathlon was the 100-meter hurdles, something Hansen typically considers a strong suit in her repertoire of events. But she struggled a bit starting off, and had to come back in the later events.
Hansen’s time of 14.86 seconds left her in sixth place following the first event, giving her 860 points and putting her 173 points behind the leader right off the bat. Her mark was also four-tenths of a second slower than at the meet against the Bulldogs.
“Hurdles are the first event and usually one of my stronger events. However, I didn’t run the time I wanted to,” Hansen said. “It was really hard to start out on such a low note, but I just refocused and tried to keep my spirits up knowing I had six other events to accomplish.”
And things certainly took a turn for the better for Hansen, as she tied for the top spot in the second event of the heptathlon, leaping 1.62 meters in the high jump.