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In the annual Battle of Beantown Invitational, the Harvard men and women’s track and field teams proved that they remain forces to be reckoned with.
On Friday at Gordon Indoor Track, the women’s squad successfully defended its title at the 2011 Battle of Beantown, while the men finished third in the four-team meet against local rivals Boston University, Boston College, and Northeastern, dashing the Crimson’s hopes of winning a third consecutive Beantown title.
“Overall, I was really pleased with both the men and women,” Crimson coach Jason Saretsky said. “Obviously, [his satisfaction] was greater on the women’s side after they had such a dominating performance. They won last year, so it was great to not only defend our team’s trophy, but to have such a convincing win.”
While the women waltzed through the competition, finishing with 191 points—well ahead of the second-place Terriers and Eagles, which both totaled 104 points—the men’s squad faced a tougher challenge.
Although the men initially kept pace with Northeastern and Boston University, by afternoon’s end the competition had shrunk into a two-way race between Huskies and Terriers. By the end of the meet, the Harvard men’s squad finished third with a respectable 131 points, short of first-place Northeastern and second-place Boston University, which accumulated 159 and 158 points, respectively.
“With the men’s side, every year it seems like it’s neck and neck,” Saretsky said. “Even though we came out on the short end this year, it was still an exciting competition, and our team did really well.”
“We were hoping to keep the trophy here for another year, but it was still a fun and competitive meet against all the local schools,” said senior distance runner Dan Chenoweth. “We knew going into the meet that it was going to be pretty tough...but we were still happy with our performance. “
On the women’s side, early wins in the 200 and 400-meter dash built momentum going into later events.
Freshman Christina Twicken got the ball rolling for the Crimson women with a gold-medal finish in the 200-meter dash in 25.33. Twicken then followed up this victory by leading Harvard in a 1-2 finish in the 400-meter dash with a mark of 56.86, along with runner-up and classmate Meisha Brooks, who finished in 56.95.
The women also posted victories in the 500-meter dash and 800-meter dash, as junior Magdalena Robak finished the 500 with a with a winning time of 1:16.46, and senior Thea Lee came back from behind on the final straightaway to win the 800 with a time of 2:14.15.
The highlight of the Harvard women’s day came when the the 4x440-yard relay team of Robak, Twicken, sophomore Jasmine Cho, and Brooks ran away with gold and smashed the previous meet record with a winning time of 3:50.48.
The Crimson women also boasted a number of ECAC qualifiers throughout the day. Junior Kailyn Kuzmuk (4:53.99) and senior Claire Richardson (4:57.67) placed fourth and sixth in the mile to qualify for the ECAC mile. Sophomore Mary Hirst qualified by clearing 1.70 meters in the high jump for second place in the event. In addition, freshman Alysha Johnson (13.80 m) and sophomore Shannon Watt (13.62 m) finished 1-2, and both qualified for the ECAC meet in shot putting.
“[The Beantown Invitational] was a great confidence booster,” Richardson said. “It was our first meet where we really got to display all the hard work and effort we have been putting in, and I think that we did great.”
The men’s side also had its share of noteworthy performances through the day. Junior John Dingus brought the Crimson men their first victory with a win in the 500-meter dash with a IC4A-qualifying time of 1:04.33. Dingus’ teammates followed up his performance with a win by senior Brian Hill in 800 (1:52.46), a victory by junior Darcy Wilson in the 1,000 (2:28.24), and a second-place finish by Chenoweth in the mile with a IC4A qualifying-time of 4:12.25.
The Harvard men and women’s track team return back to action next week when it travels to New Haven, Conn., for the annual HYP meet against Yale and Princeton.
“I think [the Beantown] was a great stepping stone,” Saretsky said. “But next week, things will definitely be amped up a bit, and there will be a lot more on the line. We’ve got the momentum right now, but we certainly need to buckle down and be ready to compete hard, because Yale and Princeton are going to be firing on all cylinders for sure.”
—Staff writer Oluwatoni A. Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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