Track and Field Builds on Recent Success as Heps Approach

Experience being the best teacher, the Harvard track and field team is trying to get as much of it as possible with a mere two weeks left until the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. Friday’s and Saturday's competitions represented the final weekend of meets before the make-or-break event. To prepare, the teams traveled to five meets on Friday and Saturday.

Forty athletes competed locally over the weekend at the Valentine Invitational hosted by Boston University. On the opening day of competition, freshman Micah Meekins got the ball rolling with a personal best of 24.76 seconds in the 200-meter dash, earning a sixth place finish. Another freshman, Livia Gauntlett, also achieved a personal best in the sprints with fourth place in the 60-meter hurdles.

“The team is really starting to come together with Heps approaching,” freshman sprinter Jacob McLennan said. “We have had some outstanding performances these past couple weeks. I'm really looking forward to see what we can accomplish.”

It was in the field, though, that the team really excelled. Senior Nikki Okwelogu opened up for the women with a 16.28-meter throw in shot put on her last attempt, good for first place. Her teammate, sophomore pole vaulter Nicole Trenchard, cleared 3.65 meters on her way to the podium with a bronze medal.

The second day of competition would be less fruitful for the teams, though more athletes surpassed individual landmarks. The top finish of the day came courtesy of junior Jay Hebert in the 60-meter hurdles. The consistent hurdler climbed to second place on the podium with a strong 8.11 second finish. In the version of this event minus the hurdles, junior Malcolm Johnson claimed the 10th place position with a time of 6.99 seconds. Junior Alexander Moore tied a personal best in the 200-meter dash as he finished in 22.03 seconds to claim the 24th position.


Claiming a personal best of his own, Freshman Michael Kolor finished in the 21st position after a 1:51.81 800-meter run. Senior James Heckendorn put out a season-best 48.64-second 400-meter dash on his way to a 19th place finish.

The long distance team also achieved a pair of personal bests. Gabe Montague, a junior from Newton, Massachusetts, finished seventh in the 1000-meter run with a time of 2:24.70 for his personal record and the fourth best time in school history. It was in the 3000-meter run that sophomore Kieran Tuntivate claimed his own best, with his time of 8:09.85 earning an eighth place finish.

In the field events, only two seniors, each holding fifth place medals, were standing in the end. Captain Julian Nunally starting things off with a 16.72 meter shot put to claim his medal. In the weight throw, Josh Whitener reigned supreme with a 17.78 meter toss.

“I am feeling really good about our men's team,” McLennan said. “Everyone has been putting in a lot of work at the track this school year, and the amount of support we are giving one another is second to none.”

Down south at the Tyson Invitational hosted by the University of Arkansas, only a half-dozen Crimson runners competed. Of those six, four finished near the top of the podium. Kicking things off Friday was sophomore Ngozi Musa in the 60-meter dash. The Washington native performed her personal best for an indoor meet with a 7.52 second preliminary run. The other sprinter, senior Jade Miller, took eleventh after a 54.63 second 400-meter dash performance.

Last week, Miller was selected as one of three spotlighted women’s athletes by This honor came as a result of Miller recording a personal best in the 400-meter and season best in the 60-meter hurdles. She was also a member of the 4x400-meter relay team that clocked the best time of the 2017 season at 3:39.50.

In the field, Friday’s competitors nearly mirrored each other. Freshman long jumpers Simi Fajemisin and Zoe Hughes both hit the 5.75-meter mark to finish 14th and 15th, respectively.

Things picked up on Saturday for the group of competitors. In the 200-meter dash, Miller clocked a season best at 24:67 seconds and claimed the 33rd spot. Teammate Gabby Thomas took seventh in the same race with a time of 23.57.

Seven student athletes traveled across the country to the University of Washington for the Husky Classic. The highlight of the event was the 5000-meter race, in which freshman Judy Pendergast placed second and subsequently clocked the third-fastest run in school history and the sixth-fastest in Ivy history.

At the Millrose Games, sophomore Myles Marshall traveled from the Valentine Invitational to compete in the Mel Sheppard 1000-meter run in New York. In the race, Marshall ran the race in 2:29.23 to place eighth.

Only two weeks remain for the teams to prepare for the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. There, Harvard will hope to continue its recent success, namely the women’s Ivy League championship earlier this season and the track team’s success last year.

“The team is definitely taking steps forward,” Pendergast said. “We are all focused on just consistently improving throughout the season and this past weekend was a good checkpoint. We still have work to do, but we are pleased with this past weekend for sure.”

—Staff writer Cade Palmer can be reached at


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