Track and Field Women Set Records, Finish Second at HYP

Following the Harvard track and field team’s first meet of the indoor season a few weeks ago, coach Jason Saretsky predicted that the school record board would undergo “a pretty major facelift” in 2013. With their performances on Saturday, three members of the women’s team provided the scalpels.

In the team’s most crucial meet to date, junior thrower and co-captain Adabelle Ekechukwu, sophomore sprinter Danielle Barbian, and co-captain pole vaulter Sydnie Leroy broke Crimson records in their respective events. Ekechukwu’s performance was most impressive, as she also broke the Ivy League record by becoming the first woman in conference history to eclipse 20-meters in the weight throw.

Despite these stellar individual outings, the Harvard women finished second at the annual HYP meet, which was held at Princeton’s Jadwin Gymnasium. The Princeton women took home the team title, tallying 79 points to Harvard’s 55. On the men’s side, the Tigers topped their rivals for the 22nd consecutive time, outscoring Harvard and Yale, 88-59-23, to earn first place.

“Obviously, I’d like to come away from that meet with the two wins, but more important was the work we got in,” Saretsky said. “Throughout the season, we continue to rewrite the record books…. I think we’ve got some real momentum and some real excitement going into the [Heptagonals] in two weeks.”

The women’s weight throw was perhaps the premier event of the weekend, as Ekechukwu battled Princeton’s highly touted freshman Julia Ratcliffe, who was expected to challenge Ekechukwu for Ivy supremacy. Ratcliffe, a native of New Zealand, currently holds the record for the weight throw in her home country (19.69 meters).

But it was Ekechukwu who ruled the day, throwing 20.03 meters on her first attempt and 20.11 on her third to break the record. Ratcliffe also turned in a personal-best performance by throwing 19.74 meters, but it was not enough to top the junior, who is also a Crimson arts and multimedia editor.

“[Ekechukwu] has been ready for this for a while now, so it was fantastic to see things finally click,” Saretsky said. “I still think there’s more to come [from her].”

Barbian and classmate Ashley Collinsworth teamed up to take the top two spots in the 60-meter dash. Barbian, who already held the school record in the event, ran her personal-best time of 7.59 seconds. Collinsworth was hot on her teammate’s heels, finishing in 7.78 seconds to give Harvard eight total team points in the event.

“About a quarter of the way through the race…it wasn’t going as well as I hoped,” Barbian said. “But I was able to make some adjustments and finish the race really well.”

“I was happy [with my performance],” Barbian added. “It’s a confidence boost to see that I’ve been running pretty well, but there are still some things I can change before Ivy League Championships to hopefully run faster.”

Leroy, the final Crimson record setter, tied for first place in the pole vault with Princeton’s Tory Worthen. Both women cleared every height up to 3.91 meters, the new Harvard record, but were unable to clear the bar at four meters.

“She did a really great job of backing up the pre-meet talk that we had about really getting after it and leaving it all out there,” Saretsky said. “Just like with Adabelle, there’s even more to come [from her].

Senior Mary Hirst also had a strong showing on Saturday, taking home the high jump with a clearance of 1.80 meters.

On the men’s side, junior Maksim Korolev dominated the mile run, finishing in 4:05. The junior, who was recently named next season’s cross country captain, finished nearly four seconds ahead of the Tigers’ James Shirvell, who finished in second place. Crimson junior Ryan Romain and senior Sean Pohorence also placed in the event, coming in third and fourth place, respectively, to give Harvard eight team points.

“Maks is in great shape,” Saretsky said of Korolev, who beat his personal record by six seconds. “He just went out there and kind of did his thing. It was fun.”

The men’s throwers provided a preview of the impact they will have at this month’s Indoor Heptagonal Championships, finishing 1-2-3 in both the shot put and the weight throw. Junior Dustin Brode took home the top spot in the shot put with a heave of 17.41, with sophomores Ben Glauser and Igor Liokumovich rounding out the top three. Glauser took over in the weight throw, just missing the 18-meter mark by throwing 17.98 meters.

“I think this meet definitely showed that we’re a force to be reckoned with,” Barbian said. “In other years, we’ve been content with taking third, or being in the top half [of the Ivy League], but this year, I think we’ve come in with this attitude that we can’t settle for anything less than first.”

—Staff writer Dominic Martinez can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @dominicmtz.