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Women's Track and Field Takes Home Heptagonal Championship

By Julio Fierro, Crimson Staff Writer

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UPDATED: May 12, 2015, at 9:19 p.m.

Take out the brooms. Again.

For the second year in a row, the Harvard women’s track and field team swept away the competition to take home the Ivy League Outdoor Heptagonals title, out-throwing, jumping, and running the field for a total of 157 points, 39 points more than second place Princeton.

It was also the second year that the women swept both the indoor and outdoor Heps title; over the last three years, the Crimson women have taken five out of the six indoor and outdoor Heps championships.

The men took sixth place with 54.50 points behind the Tigers.

“I thought they [all] competed fantastically,” Harvard coach Jason Saretsky said. “They had a fantastic meet. I thought our student-athletes competed extremely well [and] I’m really proud of them.”

The competition started off on a high note for the Crimson as senior Taylor DuPont threw a personal best 53.88 mark in the hammer throw to claim third. Classmate Hannah Mayer place second in the javelin with a mark of 44.56 meters.

On the men’s side, sophomore Elliot Safo claimed third with a 7.17 meter jump in the long jump, and in the hammer throw, captain Ben Glauser returned from injury for the first time this outdoor season, claiming fifth with a throw of 58.37 meters.

The success of day one continued on the track, where freshman Courtney Smith and senior Whitney Thornburg claimed personal bests and all-time Crimson top-10 finishes in the women’s 10,000 meter race. Smith placed third with a time of 34:53.67, while Thornburg claimed fourth with a time of 35:04.25.

Day one ended with the women in second and the men in fifth—both behind Princeton—setting the Crimson up for a fruitful second day. But day two got off to a quick start in the field events for Harvard, as sophomore Nikki Okwelogu delivered once again for Harvard, as the Fresno, Calif., native broke her own personal and Ancient Eight record in the shot put, throwing a mark of 17.32 meters.

Okwelogu claimed her second gold of the day just a few hours later, taking home the discus title with a mark of 53.78 meters, further than the previous meet best. For her efforts, the sophomore was named the Field Athlete of the Meet.

“Nikki is a special competitor,” Saretsky said. “Her performances were outstanding, and she was incredibly deserving of the [award]. She’s now won that indoors and outdoors, and they’re very well deserved.”

The track events also provided many points for the Crimson, especially on the women’s side. Junior Paige Kouba started off the day with a third-place finish and school record in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, clocking in at 10:15.81.

Much like at the Indoor Heps, the sprints turned out to arguably be the team’s strongest area, with multiple individual titles coming from stellar performances from Harvard runners.

Senior Danielle Barbian took home the 100 meter dash title, setting an Ivy League record with a time of 11.59 seconds, with classmate Ashley Collinsworth close behind her at 11.79, good enough for third.

In the 100 meter hurdles, junior Autumne Franklin took home the title with a time of 13.70, with sophomore Jackie Modesett close behind with a time of 13.89 for a third-place finish.

In the 400 meter hurdles, sophomore Jade Miller took first with a time of 57.30, a meet record, with Franklin close behind in second with a time of 58.31. Modesett took fourth, clocking in at 59.41.

In the women’s heptathlon, junior Madison Hansen took home an Ivy record and title with a total of 5,506 points, just two points ahead of the previous Ivy mark.

On the men’s side, captain Jarvis Harris led the team with a first place performance in the 400 meter hurdles, clocking in at 51.10—a personal record and the third-best performance in Harvard history. Harris also took third in the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 14.36.

“In the grand scheme of the entire weekend, I think I can definitely walk away proud,” Harris said. “I performed really well [and] I gave my best effort in all of my events…I definitely can say that I’m quite pleased with this Heps performance.”

The 5,000 meter race saw junior Tom Purnell take fourth with a time of 14:38.40 in what was arguably the most exciting race of the day. The junior was separated from first place by less than a second in a race that came down to the wire.

“The future is quite bright for us,” Harris said. “We’ll have people who will be coming back…the freshmen and sophomores were really good this season and have gotten their feet wet this first year and they’ll be a lot more comfortable.”

While the women will undoubtedly celebrate their title over these next few days, Saretsky insists there is still work to be done. The team next turns their attention to IC4A’s as well as NCAAs; after sending a program best seven athletes to Eugene, OR., last year, Saretsky believes the team can improve on that number.

“That’s what we’re striving for,” Saretsky said. “As a program each year we’re trying to get better, we’re not satisfied where we’re at…. We want more and that’s what we’re working towards.”

—Staff writer Julio Fierro can be reached at julio.fierro@thecrimson.com.

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