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Led by an individual victory by junior Courtney Smith and top-10 performances by three freshman, the Harvard women’s cross country team took home its first Ivy League Heptagonal Championship since 1985. This historic victory was Harvard’s seventh overall title in program history and Smith’s title is Harvard’s first since Suzanne Jones took home gold in 1989.
Running on the same course at Princeton University earlier this season, Courtney Smith won the Harvard-Yale-Princeton race, making her a clear contender for the Championship win. However, at the H-Y-P meet, Harvard struggled to outrun Yale, making it the underdog for the Ivy League Overall Title.
“Today was just kind of a bonus reward. It’s what we do everyday—all the hours we've put in, all the hard workouts we've done, all the strength and injury prevention—because we love the process itself,” Smith said. “We love what we do regardless of the results. But it still really nice to see it pay off and we're so proud to represent Harvard to the best of our ability.”
Finishing with a time of 20:19.6, Smith beat Penn’s Ashley Montgomery to win by a margin of over ten seconds. Emily Waligurski of Yale came in third with a time of 20:36.4, closely followed by Brown’s Taylor Worthy and Harvard freshman Erin Dietz, who both crossed the finish at 20.37.8. Also scoring for Harvard were two other freshman Judy Pendergast in sixth and Lisa Tertsch in ninth as well as junior Elianna Shwayder in 12th.
“I just needed to go out, take cues from Erin, stick with her even if the hurt set in early, and beat people from Yale and Penn,” Shwayder said. “The 2k between the 3200 and the 5k are pretty much a blur. I remember pushing with Lisa, but a bit of a gap forming from Erin. I was fatigued, but so dialed into and engaged in the race. I didn't care how I felt physically. I just knew I needed to get the job done for the team.”
Sophomore Kevin Tuntivate and senior captain Brandon Price led the men’s team with a pair of top-20 finishes. Tunitivate finished the 8K course with a time of 24:16.8, crossing the finish line in 18th. Price closely followed with a time of 24.19.8 to finish in 20th, his best Heps finish in his Harvard career.
Like the women’s team, the Harvard freshman men made strong showings at their first Ivy League Heptagonal Championship meet. Freshmen Murimi Nyamu and Will Battershill finished in 62nd and 68th respectively.
James Randon of Yale won the individual crown, while Penn, Princeton and Columbia took the top three overall spots.
“All of my teammates have worked tremendously hard this season,” sophomore Malia Ellington said. “This team is dedicated to doing all the little things right, and for the women it was incredible to watch them pull off a Heps victory.”
“As soon as I crossed the finish line, I knew we had won. I started crying tears of joy. Pure bliss,” Shwayder said. “This is the process we have been trusting and today, we clicked.”
—Staff writer Rena Simkowitz can be reached at email@example.com.
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