Track and Field Season Recap

Track is a sport defined by its metrics: how many seconds it takes to run 100 meters, or how many meters an athlete can throw a discus. But for the Harvard track and field team, two numbers in particular stood out in the 2013-2014 season.

One of those numbers, 19, represents the number of records rewritten by the men’s and women’s squads throughout the indoor and outdoor seasons. The other, two, indicates the number of Ivy League championships won by the women’s program, which claimed the top spot in both the Indoor and Outdoor Heptagonal meets.

“The ultimate goal for this program is for both the men and women to be competing for the triple crown at Heps,” Harvard coach Jason Saretsky said.

At the Indoor Heptagonal meet, the women dominated, beating out host Dartmouth on their way to totaling 122 points, the most in program history. Senior Adabelle Ekechukwu nearly surpassed her own Ivy League record in the weight throw on her way to winning her second straight Ivy League title, for which she was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Performer. Junior Danielle Barbian also took the opportunity to rewrite the history books, breaking the conference record in the 60-meter dash.

Coming off a strong cross country season, senior Maksim Korolev continued to shine indoors. After earning the highest-ever finish at the cross country nationals by an Ivy League runner, Korolev claimed the Ivy records in both the indoor 3K and 5K races.

“[The break between cross country and track] is not a lot of time to regroup, but it’s tough,” Korolev said. “It’s definitely hard to keep rolling, but ...we’re always competing year round. It’s difficult but you just kind of have to do it.”

After the men’s team managed a third-place finish for the third straight year at Indoor Heps, Korolev, alongside fellow co-captain James Leakos and junior Erika Veidis, competed at the Indoor National Championships. Though the three did not have their strongest performances, the competition marked another chance to show that Harvard track can compete against some of the country’s top schools.

Though the teams are still competing in championship meets through June, neither squad showed any signs of slowing down its momentum as it moved into the outdoor season. The women won five individual events on their way to claiming the Outdoor Heptagonal Championships.

Barbian, junior Ashley Collinsworth, freshman Jade Miller, and sophomore Autumne Franklin broke the Ivy League record in the 4x100m relay, scorching the rest of the field with a winning time of 45.40 seconds. Freshman Nikki Okwelogu continued her impressive rookie campaign with a throw of 16.03m in the shot put, shattering the old school record by over a meter on her way to winning the Ivy title.

“In the past couple of weeks, my form has been coming together,” Okwelogu said after the meet. “I’m just glad it manifested in this meet where it counts.”

On the men’s side, freshman Elliot Safo had one of the meet’s top performances, breaking a 93-year-old record in the long jump. Overall, the men finished in third place, the same result they achieved in the Indoor Heptagonal Championship. But the team has high hopes for the future.

“Seeing what the women have accomplished, [the men] have closed the gap where they are very much in the hunt [for a Heps title],” Saretsky said.

Senior Hannah Mayer continued the team’s record-breaking ways a week later at the IC4A/ECAC Championships with a throw of 48.15m in the javelin, which earned her first place.

Despite the loss of seniors such as Mayer, both squads have several top performers returning next year, and the team has no expectations of slowing down.

“When I look at those record setting performances, I think about how many are also Ivy League record setting performances, like Maks Korolev in the indoor 3K and the 5K, Danielle Barbian in the indoor 60 and the outdoor 100, Adabelle {Ekechukwu] with her weight throw,” Saretsky said. “To be setting Ivy League all-time records is just really remarkable and incredibly special.”

—Staff writer Theresa C. Hebert can be reached at thebert@college.harvard.edu.

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