Track Starts Spring Action

Meghan T. Purdy

In a breakout weekend for captain Sally Stanton, who finished second in the pole vault with a season-best jump of 3.65 meters, the men’s and women’s track teams finished exactly as they expected, in the thick of the race but short of perennial juggernauts

After a seven-week layoff over winter break and exams, the Harvard men’s and women’s track teams stormed back into action with strong performances at the Harvard Select Meet. The women placed third and the men finished fourth at the event, held in memory of assistant coach Paul Turner, who passed away over the summer. The teams competed with “PT” printed on their jerseys, and there was a short slideshow about Turner.

“He’s always wanted to make this meet an invitational,” women’s captain Sally Stanton said. “They decided they were going to do that this year. Paul would have really enjoyed this meet because it was a range of Ivy teams and teams from the region.”

The women’s team was led by junior Becky Christensen, who continued her string of strong performances by tying her season-high height in winning the high jump, clearing 1.75 meters. She was joined by junior Brittan Smith, who won the long jump with a 5.76 meter leap. Smith pulled double duty on the day, finishing fifth in 60-meter dash by finishing in 7.92 seconds.

Three more event winners came on the men’s side, where senior Brian Holmquest won the 3,000 meters in 8:16.93, a personal best. Captain Alex Lewis won the long jump with a 6.79 leap, and freshman Sean Gil rounded out the winners by taking the pole vault after clearing 4.80 meters.

“I did less event work during the break, so it made me more inconsistent,” Gil said. “As the day went on I did start to loosen up a little more and the distance of my run increased, which is good.”

The women’s squad also saw a trio of second-place finishers. Stanton cleared 3.65 meters in the pole vault, a season-best, while fellow senior Danielle Mirabal took second in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.80 seconds. Junior Elissa Reidy took second in the triple jump with a personal-best 11.85 meters.

“This was a real breakthrough meet for me,” Stanton said. “This is the highest I’ve jumped this early in the season. I’ve jumped 3.70 before, but typically my highest height’s at the end of the season when we’re sort of peaking.”

Four other women scored on the day in individual events, led by a pair of freshmen who picked up points in the mile. Jamie Olson finished in 5:01.15, earning third place, while Eliza Ives crossed in 5:05.09, good enough for sixth and a personal-best for Ives by 13 seconds. Fellow freshman Meghan Cleary was third in the 3,000 meters, finishing in 10:02.12, a personal best. Junior Jan Ng added six points by placing third in the 800 meters after clocking a time of 2:14.64, her fastest of the year and less than a second behind the winner.

The women’s 4x400 relay and distance medley teams also placed, giving the Crimson a total of 75 points for the day. Ivy teams swept the top three spots, with Brown taking the event with 144 points and Cornell coming in second with 135. Rhode Island’s 55.5 points and New Hampshire’s 51.5 points rounded out the top five behind Harvard.

The men’s team, in addition to the three winners, placed three other individuals. Freshman Dan Chenoweth ran the 800 meters in 4:13.58, earning third place. Sophomore Jack Brady finished sixth in the shot put with a 15.20 meter heave, while classmate Justin Grinstead placed sixth in the 400 meters with a time of 50.01 seconds.

The men’s distance medley team was second, while the 4x400 meter relay team finished fifth, rounding out the men’s scoring with 48 points. Cornell won the event with 163 points, edging out Connecticut’s 152. Brown was third, scoring 74.5 points, and New Hampshire finished fifth with 25.5 points.

—Staff writer Brad Hinshelwood can be reached at