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Young Teams Struggle at Heps

By Gabriel M. Velez, Crimson Staff Writer

In this past weekend’s Ivy Heptagonal championships—the pinnacle of the winter track season—the Harvard men’s and women’s track teams fell short while traditional powerhouses dominated.

Both teams struggled to match the depth of top teams Princeton and Yale and earned points mainly from individual standouts.

On the men’s side, the team came into Sunday without a single point, but left the meet sixth in the Ivy League, just 11 points out of fourth place. Princeton took home the championship with 159 points over the weekend.

“We scored 44 points in basically one day,” junior Tekky Andrew-Jaja said. “We had zero coming into Sunday, and now we feel that there is nothing stopping us from performing even better in Heptagonals to come.”

For the women, the result was slightly more sour—they were only able to manage nine points, while Cornell dominated the competition with 164.

The only victories recorded for the Crimson came from junior Alasdair McLean-Foreman in the 1000m and sophomore Samyr Laine in the men’s triple jump.


On the day that defines the meaning of leap year, the jumpers on the men’s efforts earned 30 of Harvard’s total points.

In the triple jump, Laine and sophomore Lawrence Adjah swept the top two spots, earning all-Ivy league honors for the performance.

For Laine, his new personal record—and winning jump of 15.5 meters—placed him a mere 10 cm away from the qualifying jump for the NCAA Championships. But Adjah will be right on his heels for the next two-and-a-half years, jumping a career best 15.05m himself.

“[Adjah]’s excelled in this event after a hiatus from the long jump and the hurdles, and will continue to make big strides in the triple,” co-captain Onyechi Ezekwueche said.

In the high jump, Andrew-Jaja also scored for the Crimson despite injuring his knee during the triple jump competition earlier in the day.

“The pain was still there, and I still felt it shooting through my leg in every step, but I had to jump,” Andrew-Jaja said. “I did not want any what if’s haunting me down the road.”

Matching his personal best of 2.06, Andrew-Jaja earned second place in the event.

One of the downsides for Harvard came from one of its co-captains, who was not able to register a distance in the long jump competition.

“I felt as if there were some good jumps in there, [but I] just couldn’t get any legal jumps in,” Ezekwueche said. “Right now, I’m just looking forward to a bit of break, and retooling the focus towards the technical side of things for the springtime.”

Another one of the emotional lows on Sunday came when freshman Clifton Dawson—also a Harvard football running back, in only his second meet for the team—injured his hamstring halfway through the finals of the 60m dash, finishing in last place when his heat time would have set him up to register points.

But in the long distance events, some of the other freshmen demonstrated the full extent of their potential by stepping up in the 4X800m relay to score some points for the Crimson. Fielding a team of three freshmen—Hugo van Vuren, Connor Wilson, John Paul—and senior Jamie Albertine, Harvard managed to reel in fifth place.

“What’s encouraging is that we did better indoors than the Harvard team last year, which was without a doubt more talented and deeper,” Ezekwueche said. “Now we have to focus on getting more people healthy, on board and scoring so that we can grab a more respectable finish at Heps outdoors given the composition of and numbers on our team.”


For the women, the team’s lack of depth showed this past weekend as Harvard was able to notch a number of top-ten places, but could not find a way to break into the scoring section in a number of races.

“It was a disappointing finish, of course,” co-captain BreeAnna Gibson said. “But we are a small team, and had many top-ten finishes even though they only score the top six. A little bit here or there and we could have had a bigger impact on the meet.”

Harvard’s top two performances both came from Gibson herself, who scored nearly half the team’s points with her efforts in the shot put and weight throw.

In the former, Gibson matched her season-high throw of 13.27m, good for fifth place.

On Saturday, Gibson’s weight throw of 15.93 meters earned her the first of the two fifth place finishes.

The other scoring efforts for the meet came from sophomore Mary Serdakowski—with fourth place in the 60m hurdles—and the 4X800m relay, led by sophomore Laura Maludzinski and senior anchor Beverly Whelan.

“We are a young team that will hopefully improve with age,” Gibson said. “It takes hard work and dedication to be a successful team in a sport that is usually looked on as an individual venture. These are attributes that I am positive our team possesses.”

Nevertheless, the Crimson’s strength heading into the spring season will be in its individual talents, as opposed to a strong team depth.

But before it gets too ahead of itself, the team must focus on finishing out the indoor season. Next week, a select few Harvard runners will be competing in the IC4A indoor championships for the men and the ECAC championships for the women, with the best of those looking to qualify for the NCAA championships.

—Staff writer Gabriel M. Velez can be reached at

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Track and Cross Country