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Individuals Shine Before Long Break

Men’s and women’s squads combine for 21 top-5 finishes at Gordon Track

Former heptathlete and junior Brittan Smith finished second in both the 60-meter dash and the long jump this weekend.
Former heptathlete and junior Brittan Smith finished second in both the 60-meter dash and the long jump this weekend.
By Lucy D. Chen, Contributing Writer

Strong individual performances at the Harvard Open on Saturday at Gordon Track propelled the Crimson track and field teams into their six-week winter break.

“It was a good first home meet,” senior Brian Holmquest said. “I’d say the team looked a lot better than it has in years past for the first race.”

Holmquest led the way for the men’s team, placing first in the 5,000 meters with a personal best time of 14:38.83, which automatically qualifies him for the IC4A Championships in March. Holmquest lapped the field and finished over 30 seconds ahead of the second-place runner.

“[The race] went pretty well,” Holmquest said. “One of my teammates led the race for two kilometers. And then I wasn’t racing against anyone, and I kind of left the field behind pretty early.”

Assistant coach Matt Chisam, competing independently, took first place in the 60-meter hurdles, finishing in 8.37 after he had run 8.27 in prelims. Junior Derek Jones took second in the 400-meter dash, clocking in at 50.31. And in his first time running the event, sophomore Justin Grinstead took third in the 500-meter dash with a time of 1:05.69.

Co-captain Alex Obrecht placed second in the shot put with a throw of 14.69 meters, and freshman Sean Gil took second in the pole vault by clearing 4.75 meters.

On the women’s end, junior Becky Christensen again won the high jump. Christensen, an All-American who took 10th at NCAA Championships last season, also automatically qualified for the IC4A Championships with her jump of 1.75 meters.

The final individual winner of the day was co-captain Molly Boyle, who took first in the weight throw with a toss of 14.87 meters.

Co-captain Sally Stanton and classmate Clara Blattler tied for second place in the pole vault with a clearance of 3.5 meters, best among collegiate competitors.

“Pole vaulting is a funny event because you can jump really well but not clear really high bars,” Stanton said. “We both jumped 3.5 meters, but this meet was definitely more important as a stepping stone toward other meets.”

Freshmen Katrina Drayton, Stephanie Louis, and Cassandra Bowe teamed up with junior Jan Ng to win the 4x440 yard relay, breaking the tape in 4:04.20.

Junior Brittan Smith placed second in the 60-meter dash (7.8 seconds) and in the long jump (5.62 meters).

“I was a heptathlete for the last two years, but this year I wanted to focus on the long jump so I could maybe get the school record before I graduate,” Smith said. “I’m also starting to run the 60 this year in preparation for the long jump and also because I really love to sprint.”

Senior Sarah Bourne and junior Elissa Reidy added second-place finishes, in the 5,000 meters and triple jump, respectively.

“Everyone performed really well,” Stanton said. “Because we weren’t competing against other schools and there was no team scoring, it was more individual. We had a lot of people who had outstanding performances.”

Other top individual performers of the day were Drayton, who finished third in the 200-meter dash, Ng who ran third in the 800 meters, and junior Dara Wilson, who took bronze in the 60-meter hurdles.

“I think our performances yesterday give us a positive outlook for the rest of the season,” Smith said. “For the women’s team, I would definitely say that we would be more competitive in the Ivy League, which is really exciting.”

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