As it heads into the last lap of the regular season, the Harvard track and field team has certainly not slowed down. Competing across the country this weekend, the team posted several personal bests and beat old Harvard records.
Senior Morgan Kelly had another standout weekend as she broke the Crimson record in the 3k race with a time of 9:21.42. Kelly broke the 5k record last week, which had been set Katie Wylie '85 in 1983. Claire Richardson '11 was the previous holder of the 3k record, which she broke in 2010, but Kelly’s mark surpassed Richardson by just under two seconds. Kelly finished sixth overall against the rest of the field at the Philadelphia, Penn. meet that attracts competition from around the globe.
Two of the squad’s relay teams also claimed top spots in the record books.
The 4x400 relay finished in a time of 3:36.83 to overtake the record set a year ago. Running in the relay were sophomore Autumne Franklin, freshman Jade Miller, freshman Jackie Modesett, and junior Gabrielle Scott. Franklin and Scott both were members of the group that set the old record at last year’s ECAC meet with a time of 3:37.90. This year’s time put them in third place in the meet.
The distance medley relay also set a new record with an 8th place finish. The group consisting of sophomore Kieran Gallagher, senior Olivia Abbate, and juniors Erika Veidis and Molly Renfer finished in 11:18.59.
In a local competition at Stonehill College, the men finished fourth overall and the women finished seventh despite sending small squads.
The 5k was one of Harvard’s strongest events on the day, with two runners finishing in the top five. Sophomore Johnny Marvin clocked in at 15:07.71 to claim the top spot, while junior teammate Ryan Meehan finished just behind him in the fourth spot with a time of 15:29.75.
In the field events, senior Alysha Johnson excelled for the women with her personal best this season in the shot put to top the podium. For the men, freshman Julian Nunally had a strong day with a second place finish in the shot put and third in the discus.
UCSD Triton Invitational
The women’s throwing team headed to the West Coast to compete this weekend at the UCSD Triton Invitation.
Freshman Nikki Okwelogu continued her strong rookie season by breaking the Crimson record in the discus with a throw of 51.14 meters. Catherine Griffin '92, held the previous record with a distance of 51.09m. Okwelogu’s throw was good enough for seventh overall at the meet.
“I’ve always been a competition thrower,” Okwelogu said. “I thrive off the nervous adrenaline. Plus these were all the people I competed against in high school, and it was nice to see that kind of competition again. They push me to be better. [It’s] higher stakes, no one wants to be last.”
Though she has posted strong marks this season, Okwelogu still feels she has room to grow.
“The school record has never crossed my mind,” Okewelogu said. “I have so many goals for this season and somehow that wasn’t one of them. I’ve just wanted t throw farther than I did last year and qualify for as many post season meets as I can. I still haven’t PR-ed in discus though. I’m holding out for it.”
Senior Adabelle Ekechukwu earned the second best distance of her college career in the hammer throw with a distance of 57.16m to place 11th in the meet.
OTC Elite Invitational
The men’s throwing squad also headed west to compete this weekend, and junior Igor Liokumovich had arguably the best weekend of his career. The Rosewood, Ill. native set three personal records during the meet.
In the discus, Liokumovich beat his previous best by two meters with a distance of 54.51m. The junior had two personal bests in the shot, first beating his own previous distance with a throw of 17.57m, and then beating himself again with a throw of 17.76m. His second throw claimed the top spot in the event.
Junior Ben Glauser also had a successful weekend, with an 11th-place finish in the hammer throw and sixth-place finish in the shot put.
Harvard will not compete next weekend in order to prepare for the upcoming championship season.
“All year long we’re building for the championship push of our season,” Crimson coach Jason Saretsky said. “So it’s kind of [important to] continue to gain momentum, continue to build towards that competitive window of competing at the highest level possible. I’m thrilled with the progression so many of our student athlete’s are making.”
—Staff writer Theresa C. Hebert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.