UPDATED: February 28, 2017 at 11:44pm
Traveling to the Hurricane Collegiate Invitational on Saturday, the Harvard track and field team traded Boston’s gloomy weather for some Florida sunshine, and, along the way, some old personal records for some new ones as well.
The tournament, hosted by the University of Miami, saw the women Crimson sprinters having a successful showing. At the University’s Cobb Stadium, Harvard competed against the likes of Clemson, Florida, Virginia, and several additional Florida schools.
Starting off the bunch was, per usual, sophomore Gabby Thomas, the first team All-American indoor 200-meter sprinter. Thomas, this time, competed in a shorter race, taking gold in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.34. The finish was only .04 seconds off her personal record and is the fastest time in the East region for outdoor track this season. Also running was classmate Ngozi Musa, who claimed the 10th place position with a time of 11.99 seconds.
The women’s team took the top spot in the 400-meter hurdles race. Leading off the trio was senior Jade Miller, who would take the top spot on the podium with a 57.20 second sprint. Freshman Karina Joiner followed her with a 11th place finish at 1:02.71.
“It was exciting,” Miller said. “It is still super early in the season, but it was my best opener in the 400 hurdles, which makes me super excited for the rest of the season. I made a lot of mistakes, which is good, as I know there is a lot of room to improve. It's a great start to my senior outdoor season, and I am excited for this last leg of my journey in Harvard track and field.”
In the hurdle variant of the 100-meter race, the team was less successful. Leading off for the group of racers was freshman Zoe Hughes, a first time racer in the event and a second team All-American in the indoor pentathlon. The freshman took the ninth place spot with a 13.90 race, the fifth best finish in program history. Just behind her was classmate Karina Joiner who, with a 14.08 second 100-meter, finished 13th. Rounding out the group was senior Jade Miller who claimed 15th following her 14.09 second finish.
In the relays, it was again the women’s teams that shined. Starting with the 4x400-meter relay, the team made up of Hughes, Thomas, Miller, and Joiner, finished the race in fourth place, clocking the tenth fastest time in school history.
As for the 4x100-meter relay, the team finished further back, but did better relative to past results. The team, this time consisting of Musa, Thomas, Joiner, and Miller, claimed the sixth place position. However, the time represented the third fastest in school history.
The runners on the men’s side left with a couple of new personal records. In particular, in the 200-meter dash, two personal records were broken by a trio of juniors. Leading his teammates, junior Alexander Moore finished 18th, but ran a PR of 21.89. Following just behind was his teammate junior James Heckendorn. The second of the duo also set a personal best with a time of 21.91 and a 19th place finish. Adding to the mix was classmate Matt Hurst. The sprinter finished the race in 22nd and crossed the finish line in 22.19 seconds.
“For the men’s team, we’re looking to score more points than we did Indoors this season,” Moore said. “We had strong performances from a lot of our guys who competed, and were excited to incorporate a few guys who only compete outdoors with really promising numbers early on.”
In the field, it was a good day for co-captain Julian Nunally. Coming off of three gold medals in two Texas meets last weekend, the senior showed up again. For the Chattanooga, Tenn. native, it was the fourth throw that would be his lucky one. In discus, it was Nunally’s second-to-last throw of 49.20 that placed him fourth. Then competing in shot put, the co-captain tossed the shot 16.94 meters again on his fourth throw to take sixth place.
For the women’s team in the field, it was freshman Simi Fajemisin all by her lonesome. The freshman competed in long jump where she placed sixth with a 5.96-meter jump.
“We have to stay healthy and trust the process,” Moore said. “The better we do, the stronger our recruiting classes tend to be and we end up in a better position to score even more points the following year. I believe this is a critical moment in the development of the program under the current coaching administration.”
—Staff writer Cade Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
An earlier of version of this article incorrectly listed Autumne Frankin as a current member of the Harvard women's team. Franklin is a graduate of the 2016 class and is continuing to train with the team throughout the season. However, she did race in the meet Saturday and placed second in the 400-meter hurdles.
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