Track Squads Struggle At Heptagonals

Despite higher point totals, women finish seventh; Barrett headlines men's field

Meghan T. Purdy

Distance runner Sean Barrett decimated the field in the 10,000 meters, finishing in 30:34.86, almost 10 full seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. The senior will compete next weekend in an attempt to qualify for the NCAA Regional in Gainesville, Fl

The Ivy League championship was on the line at the Heptagonals Championships this weekend in Princeton, N.J. The undermanned Crimson was not up to the task, finishing seventh on the women’s side and eighth in the men’s standings.

“We ended up with a good deal of points,” said junior and women’s co-captain Sally Stanton. “Some years, getting 53 points will get you fifth place, but this year, the points were very spread out.”

For the women, freshman Eda Karesin and senior co-captain Julia Pederson went one-two in the javelin, with Karesin finishing with a 48.02-meter throw and Pederson launching it 46.49 meters. Pederson’s throw broke her own school record by about a meter, and Karesin followed that up by breaking Pederson’s new record by a meter and a half. Karesin’s throw was also the third longest in Ivy League history.

Meanwhile, sophomore Becky Christensen continued her dominance in the outdoor season and at Heptagonals, winning the high jump for the second consecutive year by clearing 1.80 meters, beating rival Sarah Wilfred of Cornell. Christensen’s jump was tied for the fifth best in Heptagonals history.

Harvard scored many points in the heptathlon, where sophomore Shannon Flahive finished second with a school-record 4982 points. Fourth, fifth, and sixth in the event were taken by Pederson, junior Danielle Mirabal, and sophomore Brittan Smith, respectively.

The 4x100 relay team, made up of Mirabal, Flahive, Smith and sophomore Favia Merritt, finished fourth in 48.42 seconds, earning four more points.

Dara Wilson led the charge in the sprints, as the sophomore finished fifth in the 100-meter hurdles in 14.51 seconds.

Stanton was the top Crimson finisher in the pole vault, tying the school record of 3.65 meters, good enough for fifth place.

Sophomore Elissa Reidy scored a point in the long jump by placing sixth, leaping 5.64 meters.

Senior co-captain Sean Barrett led the way for the Harvard men. Competing in his final Heptagonals Championship, Barrett pulled away from the field to win the 10,000 meters in 30:34.86, almost 10 full seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.

“In my four years here, I’ve had some disappointing finishes because of health, so to go out and finish strong feels good,” Barrett said.

Barrett will compete again next weekend in Princeton to attempt to qualify for NCAA Regionals. The 10,000 meters is one of the few events at Heptagonals that does not serve as a regional qualifier.

“I’m definitely going to take a crack at it,” Barrett said of next weekend’s race. “My career’s on the line, so that’s plenty of extra motivation.”

Junior Brian Holmquest placed sixth in the same event, posting a time of 31:02.26.

Senior co-captain Christian Ayers finished sixth in the hammer throw, tossing it 52.64 meters, and junior Alex Lewis added a point by finishing sixth in the decathlon.

Cornell took both team titles on the weekend. It was the sixth consecutive title for the Big Red women and the fifth straight for the Cornell men. But the future looks bright for both Harvard squads, as very few seniors will be departing.

“Only two [members of the women’s team] who came with us this weekend are graduating,” Stanton said. “The coaches tell me we’ll be getting some really talented freshmen next season.”

Among placewinners this weekend, only Pederson, Barrett, and Ayers will graduate.

—Staff writer Brad Hinshelwood can be reached at