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Wounded Soldiers

By Gabriel M. Velez, Crimson Staff Writer

After an indoor season plagued by a number of injuries, the Harvard track and field team decided to try to reorganize and come out strong for the outdoor season, sending a limited number of athletes to the ECAC and IC4A championships.

Despite the hardships of the indoor season, the track team did not finish on a completely sour note as three of its athletes finished in the top fifteen against tough competition in the indoor season’s final competitions.

The winners of the respective men’s and women’s meets were Manhattan College and the University of Pittsburgh.

Though Harvard did not register a point at the IC4A meet in the men’s competition nor for the women’s ECAC championships, the teams had only five runners combined participating in the meet.  Other Crimson athletes decided to nurse nagging injuries and refocus for the upcoming outdoor season.

“Injuries have definitely plagued our team in the indoor season, and hopefully we can get healthy in order to have a better outdoor season,” said women’s co-captain BreeAnna Gibson.

For the Crimson men—who competed on Boston University’s track-three field—competitors represented the entire team this past weekend.

All season long, the field side of the team has provided a strong boost to the team’s collective efforts on the legs and arms of its jumpers and throwers.

While the team, especially its field element, is still lead by its seniors—co-captains Adam Gelardi in the shot put and Onyechi Ezekwueche in the long jump—the supporting underclassmen have shown good potential for this year and beyond.

All of the Harvard men who participated will have two more years to return to IC4As and make their mark against top level competition.

With a leap of 14.38m, sophomore Samyr Laine captured 13th in the Men’s triple jump. In the high jump, classmate Clifford Emmanuel was not able to clear the preliminary height of 2.06 meters.

The third Harvard athlete was thrower Christopher Ware, whose best shot put on the day was 15.43 meters, placed 13th despite having back problems that prevented him from competing in the weight throw.

But, certain key names were absent from the meet due to injury, including Ezekwueche and junior jumper Tekky Andrew-Jaja.

On the track, Harvard has additional strength in its core of runners with at least a year and a half left to compete for the Crimson.

Junior Alasdair McLean-Foreman—one of the strongest runners—took home the heptagonal crown in the 1000m run, but did not race this past weekend due to a problem with his heel.

“He told me that he felt like pulling up during the first couple laps [of last week’s 1000m semifinal,] that’s how bad it hurt,” Andrew-Jaja said.

But close on his heels and showing enormous potential is a number of freshmen runners who came off of strong cross country seasons to contribute for the indoor team.

For the women, only two competitors from Harvard participated in the meet, but as with the men, one of them will have a number of years to return to the championship.

Two of the team’s consistently top finishers, Beverly Whelan and Gibson, are both seniors, but a number of freshmen and sophomores have also played key roles on the team, whether sprinting, mid-distance running or throwing the shot put.

This past weekend, Whelan was the only Harvard representative on the track, finishing the 1000m run in 2:16—17th in her preliminary heat.

In the high jump, the Crimson’s other athlete, freshman Sandra Stankovic, another young standout of the indoor season, failed to reach the first height of 1.65.

However, two other field event athletes were conspicuously not present this past weekend. Gibson has problems with her knee, and freshman Shawna Strayhorn has injured her wrist, which affects the ability to throw the shot put.

“I, for one, have a metal plate and screws in my ankle which causes problems in the tendons in my ankle,” Gibson said. “All of this is compounded by the fact that I have a knee injury—possibly meniscus tear—so I am taking time to rehab before outdoor season starts over spring break.”

In fact, Gibson, along with the rest of the team, will have 17 more days to rest as the outdoor season will begin on March 26th when the team travels to Rice University for the Bayou Classic.

—Staff writer Gabriel M. Velez can be reached at gmvelez@fas.harvard.edu.

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Track and Cross Country