Although many people perceive track and field to be an individual sport, the most important meets--those with league championships on the line--demonstrate the necessity of a strong team with lots of depth. The scoring system counts the top six finishers, so the key in these meets is to place well and to place often.
The story for the Harvard men's track team and field team is one of many talented individuals plagued by a lack of depth.
The men's team earned a fourth place finish at the 48th indoor Heptagonal Championships, which took place on the last weekend in February at Cornell. Princeton sprinted past Harvard and the rest of the field to take first place with a team score of 117. Penn came in a close second with 106 points and Dartmouth finished third with 96. Harvard was a distant fourth with 77.3 points.
However, despite the disappointing team finish, many individuals had stellar performances. The long list begins with co-captain Brian Harvey, who won the 800 meters with a time of 1:53.33. Sophomore Steve Brannon cleared 16.75 feet to earn first place in the pole vault, and junior Crimson editor Darin Shearer won the 1,000 meter race with a time of 2:28.75 and also placed third in the 3,000 meters with a time of 8:21.39.
"I fear that our fourth-place finish may appear negative when it appears in The Crimson," co-captain Bryan Henry said. "But it really isn't. We had all of our guys qualify for the finals--and most placed in the top three. For a small team we did really well."
Although the focus of the outdoor season remained a higher team finish at Heps, the most memorable season highlight may have come in the Harvard-Yale dual meet, which was the qualifying competition for this summer's Oxford-Cambridge meets scheduled to take place in England. The Crimson dominated the dual meet, winning 93-70.
Co-captain Dan Dusek led the way for Harvard's individual feats, opening the meet with a new Harvard record in the javelin at 65 meters. Harvard also got wins in the discus and shotput from junior Stephen McCauley. Brannon was victorious in the pole vault by clearing 16'8".
Despite these impressive individual victories in the field events, the meet was put away on the track when Harvard swept the 800 meters. Henry led the way with a first-place finish in a time of 1:51.74, who followed by sophomore Matt Bundle and then Shearer.
Sophomore distance sensation Ian Carswell notched a win for the Crimson in the 5,000 meters, and Harvard runners were also victorious in the 4x400 relay.
The next challenge for the Crimson came at the outdoor Heptagonal Championships staged in Annapolis, Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy. The team placed a disappointing sixth having earned only 41 points. Penn finished first with 151, followed by Princeton (132) and Dartmouth (90).
Again, Harvard was plagued by lack of depth. "We were by far the smallest team out there," Henry said. "Princeton and Penn doubled our numbers."
The Crimson sent 26 athletes to compete in 20 events, including two track relays, which require four runners each.
Led by Henry in the 800 meter, the Crimson could only boast a handful of scoring performances. Henry won the 800 in 1:49.7, Dusek placed second in the javelin, throwing 211'4" and Carswell placed second in the 5,000 meters with a time of 14:31.
While the Crimson will lose Henry and Dusek to graduation, the team will return a strong group of under classmen for next year.
"It's a young team," Henry said. "The core is underclassmen and there is a strong recruiting class coming in next year."