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The Harvard men’s and women’s track teams kicked off their outdoor seasons with a Texas two-step over spring break, as they competed in the Texas State University relays and the Bayou Classic, both held at Rice University.
While there were no official places awarded at the competitions, the Crimson teams had stronger performances at the TSU relays, which are the fourth-largest track and field competition in the country. That meet took place during the first weekend of vacation, March 21-23, before an intense week of two-a-day practices.
“Our training was difficult but rewarding,” said freshman sprinter Anne Hillier. “It was sometimes difficult to run in the Texas heat.”
Following their stop in the south, both the men’s and women’s teams head up to Dartmouth next weekend to challenge The Big Green and Brown.
Competing in a stadium filled with several thousand raucous fans, the Crimson men were led by strong performances in the distance events and relays.
Its distance medley relay team of seniors Christopher Antunes, Eric LaHaie and Matt Seidel, and sophomore Devin Lyons-Quirk captured first place with a time of 10:17.96.
Sophomore Russell Leino joined Antunes, Lyons-Quirk and Seidel on the 4x800 relay team, which finished in second place at 7:45.44.
Harvard also impressed in the 5000 meters, as senior Nathan Shenk-Boright and sophomore Reed Bienvenu finished in first and second place, respectively. Senior Taylor Banks had a solid showing in the 3000-meter steeplechase with a 9:58.27, second-place run.
In the field events, the Crimson men had fourth place finishes in the triple jump (freshman Sam Laine), javelin (James Patton) and shot put (sophomore Kris Hinson).
Girls co-captain Ashley Furst had the lone victory for the Crimson women with her 2:15.52 finish in the 800 meters. Junior Bev Whelan sealed the one-two finish for Harvard as she crossed the line in 2:17.39.
“I did not know I won until people told me,” Furst said. “There was a rabbit in our heat that sprinted the first 600 meters, then dropped out like it was a workout instead of a race. I did not see this, and kicked at the 600. When I was at the 700-meter mark, I didn’t see anyone ahead of me and figured she had already finished.”
Furst also placed third in the 400 meters in 58.53 seconds, while Whelan had another second-place finish in the 3000 meters in 10:05.06.
Harvard had several solid performances in field events on the day as well. Junior BreeAnna Gibson placed third in the shot put and javelin with distances of 13.18 meters and 33.81 meters, respectively. She also had a discus throw of 41.26 meters, good for fourth place.
“That was only my second meet in the javelin in my career at Harvard,” Gibson said. “So it was definitely nice to be able to place.”
Gibson’s classmate Alexandra Petrone nabbed second place in the javelin with an impressive showing of 40.97 meters.
Junior Andrea Li capped off Harvard’s field finishes, placing second in the pole vault (3.35 meters).
“As the first meet of the season, it is a great place to evaluate your marks and determine where you need to go from there,” Furst said. “Our team has made good marks on which we can improve.”
While the Crimson women did not have as many top-finishers in their second meet, their field competitors continued to impress.
Junior Johanna Doyle finished first in the hammer throw at 52.11 meters. Gibson finished in fourth place at 41.72 meters.
Nicky Grant ‘02 actually won the hammer throw, but was competing without affiliation and therefore was ineligible to officially place. Grant, a former team captain, All-America selection and top placer at the World Championships for Jamaica, was one of many former Crimson track and field athletes to compete in the meet.
“It was great to get to compete with her again and see her doing so well in the event she is training for in order to hopefully represent Jamaica at the next Olympics,” Gibson said.
Gibson added to her hammer throw performance with a third-place finish in the shot put (13.47 meters) and a fourth-place throw (42.47 meters) in the discus.
Her mark in the shot put was a new outdoor personal best.
Petrone had an impressive showing in the javelin with a distance of 39.81 meters, good for second place.
Freshman Adanna Scott was the only runner to place for the Crimson, as she finished second in the 400-meter hurdles in 1:03.50.
The men’s team also had a strong outing in it’s field events at the Bayou Classic.
Hanson won the shot put at 15.21 meters, and Laine took first-place honors in the triple jump with a distance of 14.56 meters.
Freshman James Rhodes won the hammer throw at 47.83 meters, and junior Adam Gelardi finished in third place behind him at 38.32 meters.
Harvard had six more third-place finishes on the day, led by LaHaie in both the 110-meter hurdles (16.23 seconds) and the 400-meter hurdles (56.34 hurdles).
“These were pretty good performances for the team considering we were not at full strength,” co-captain John Traugott said. “Our solid training will kick in in a couple of weeks, so we’ll be well-prepared for the more important meets coming up. As long as we stay healthy and consistent, we’ll see some really positive improvements in our performances.”
—Staff writer Samita A. Mannapperuma can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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