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Harvard Impresses at the Gotham Cup

By Steven T. A. Roach, Crimson Staff Writer

The 2011 season has just gotten underway, and the Harvard men and women’s track and field teams are already proving to be a dominating force. Both squads were successful in multiple events Friday night at the Gotham Cup, hosted by the New York City Armory.

The Crimson men had a strong showing in the individual middle distance races. In the 800-meter run, co-captain Brian Hill scored the only first-place finish for the Harvard men. With a time of 1:53.01, Hill bested Brandon Burton of Hampton by just under half of a second. Sophomore Jeff Homer also turned in a ninth-place finish in the event, crossing the line in 1:56.48.

In the 1000-meter run, freshman Ryan Romain beat out fellow rookie Tyler Cusick with a time of 2:34.33. Romain’s time was good for 12th place, leaving Cusick one spot below him. Sophomore Jared Squires rounded out the top Harvard finishers in the event, recording a time of 2:36.12, good for the 21st spot.

“I think we really did great,” Romain said. “It was our first real competition of the season, and we had some really good times…After this, I think we’re going to have a really strong season.”

The Crimson long-distance runners racked up strong results as well. Harvard took home third place in the distance medley race. Hill, sophomore Stewart Richardson, and freshmen James Leakos and Erik Kraus teamed up in the event, just missing out on second place but managing to grab the bronze for the Crimson. Junior Darcy Wilson also turned in a third-place finish in the one-mile run, posting a time of 4:10.58.

The Harvard men competing in the field events did not disappoint either. In the weight throw, the Crimson had four finishers in the top 25. Freshman Dustin Brode took home the highest finish in the field events of the night, scoring a distance of 16.37 meters, good enough for third place. Co-captain Ablorde Ashigbi and sophomore Matthew Polega finished in 14th and 15th, respectively, and senior Eric Clayman came in 25th place to round out the top Crimson finishers in the event.

In the pole vault, senior Sean Gil and sophomore Fedor Garin tied for fourth with 4.45 meters. Harvard was the only school to have two teammates finish in the top seven in the event. For the shot put, sophomore Edward Brucker put the Crimson on the board, picking up fifth place.

Like the men, the women saw positive results in the middle-distance races. Freshman Natalia Paine posted a time of 1:17.57 in the 500-meter dash, earning Harvard’s lone spot in the top eight. In the 800-meter run, junior Meghan Looney took home fifth place with a time of 2:17.93.

Freshman Alaina Murphy rounded out the Crimson women’s top results in the middle-distance races. She nabbed a fourth-place finish in the 1000-meter run, crossing the line in 2:59.67, just one second away from taking third place.

Harvard also took home the gold in the distance medley, with juniors Kailyn Kuzmuk, Sana Raoof, and Catherine Ressijac and freshman Kristina Funahashi teaming up to take home the top prize in the event.

“Going into it, you’re just trying to shake off the rust from winter training, but we just wanted to go out there and have fun,” Kuzmuk said. “We thought we had a good shot going into it, but you’re never really sure. We were really excited after because it’s a great way to start the season.”

The women’s field team also posted strong results for the night. In the pole vault, sophomore Sydnie Leroy and freshman Adrienn LaChance tied for second place, both finishing with 3.55 meters. Freshman Adabelle Ekechukwu managed to grab seventh place in the weight throw, and sophomore Chelsea Gilbert scored a 13th-plce finish in the event.

The Crimson women had two top-five finishes in the shot put. Freshman Alysha Johnson took second place with 13.37 meters, while sophomore Shannon Watt finished just slightly behind her teammate with 12.89 meters, good for fifth place.

Despite the long winter break, the Crimson had success at the Gotham Cup, an indication that 2011 has the potential to be a strong year for track and field.

—Staff writer Steven T. A. Roach can be reached at sroach@fas.harvard.edu.

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Track and Cross Country