Dreary Weather Does Little to Hold Back Spring Sports

Pure Dominance
Mark Kelsey

The Crimson women’s squash team last suffered defeat more than two years ago. The date was Jan. 11, 2015. The final score was a tight 5-4. Since then, Harvard has won two national championships and seems poised to claim a third. Through five games so far, the women are still undefeated.

Enter Samdan

Boston winters are cruel—sardonic, slushy, and long. But here in Cambridge, Harvard sports teams are thriving.

The women’s basketball team can’t lose. Since Nov. 12, 2016, the Crimson has ripped off 14 straight victories, the second-longest streak in school history.

Harvard has won in Kansas, New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The women have shot to early leads, clawed from behind, and pulled out tug-of-war battles.

Rookies have made immediate impacts. Freshman guard Katie Benzan tops the team in points and assists, and freshman forward Jeannie Boehm is tied for the program lead in rebounds. But veterans provide the backbone, as three returning players average over nine points a contest.

Forget parkas and 30-degree dreariness. This women’s basketball program is Fourth-of-July, sweat-stains-on-the-T, the grill-is-on-fire hot.

And that’s only one team. Not to be outdone, men’s basketball has won nine of its last 10 games, including an 82-68 romp over Dartmouth last Saturday. The most touted recruiting class in school history has met many expectations, as two freshmen (guard Bryce Aiken and forward Seth Towns) lead Harvard in scoring.

Again, though, it’s the depth that stands out. Five players score at least eight points a game, and senior point guard Siyani Chambers marshals the attack. Talent runs deep.

The same holds for the track and field team, which has spent January threatening school records. Senior Jade Miller ran a 600-meter race in 1:20.53, better than anyone else in Crimson history, and sophomore Myles Marshal did the same over 800 meters. Sophomore sprinter Gabby Thomas is also nipping at historic times.

Then there is senior Nikki Okwelogu, who competed for Nigeria in last summer’s Olympics. A first-team All-American as a junior, she threw a shot put 17.32 meters at May’s Ivy League Championship. By comparison, the other nine best throwers to attend Harvard recorded career bests between 13.5 and 14.8 meters.

As it is on land, so it is in water: No one can keep up with Crimson swimmers. Neither the men’s nor the women’s swimming and diving team has dropped a meet all year. Recently, the men’s squad smacked Brown, 226-74—a defeat so lopsided that lifeguards probably should have intervened.

As gray as Boston winters can be, this January marks a golden era for many Harvard teams. And in this age of dominance, one program reigns as king—or rather queen—of them all.

The Crimson women’s squash team last suffered defeat more than two years ago. The date was Jan. 11, 2015. The final score was a nightmarishly close 5-4.

Since then, Harvard has won two national championships and seems poised to claim a third. This season, the team has entered five contests and taken all five.

On the weekend of Jan. 14, the Crimson confronted stiff tests again No. 2 Penn and No. 4 Princeton. The favorites passed without much difficulty, winning 7-2 and 8-1, respectively. More recently, on Jan. 21, Harvard visited Palo Alto, Calif. and ravaged No. 5 Stanford, 9-0.

The success of the 2016-2017 team feeds into a longer narrative of obliteration. Harvard has seized four of the last five national titles. One more this year will give the Crimson 17 overall, tied with Princeton for the most all time.

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