If the Harvard indoor track and field team has done better this year it isn’t by standing on the shoulders of the greats, but by shattering their records. In total, six school records have fallen at the hands of the 2017 team and this weekend, the team claimed its latest victim—a 20-year 4x400 meter relay record.
Traveling to the Boston University Track and Tennis Center for the ICAAAA Championships, the quartet—junior James Heckendorn, sophomore Myles Marshall, junior Matt Hurst, and junior Alexander Moore—didn’t just beat the Crimson record, it destroyed it. Clocking a 3:10.84, the group beat the prior time by nearly three seconds and in the process set both the fourth-fastest time in Ivy League history and claimed a season Ancient Eight record.
“The point of this weekend was just to go out there and see what we were capable of doing,” Hurst said. “There wasn't a ton of pressure or nerves, it was just fun. I think the biggest thing was that we were all just stoked to get out there and run fast, without all of that extra baggage.”
The previous Harvard record of 3:13.54 was set by Kevin Johnson, Brian Young, Joseph Ciollo, and Thomas Mike III at the 1997 Indoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. Shattering this record, the 2017 group earned first in the preliminary round.
“Our coach has done a great job of having us peak at right time at the end of the indoor season, so we just trusted in that and trusted in our training thus far, and went for it,” Hurst said. “It was also a huge confidence booster going into the outdoor season, and I think it was a good sign of things to come. We were all really excited when we saw that time, and it was really cool to be apart of that team.”
Marshall clocked not only a record time with the relay team, but pulled a personal best in the second leg of the race. Even more, he went on to set a high bar in the 500-meter run. The sophomore ran the race in 1:02.56 to claim both the fastest time in the day’s preliminary races as well as the third-fastest time in the school history. Not too bad considering he holds the other top two times as well.
“The team has developed well over the season,” Marshall said. “We didn't like our team finish at the Ivy League championships, but we know we are in a good place moving forward to the outdoor season.”
Marshall chose not to compete in the finals Sunday as to not risk any injuries.
“We also don't compete a full team at these championships,” Marshall said. “We use it more for some individuals to achieve a fast time or mark and cap off the Indoor season on a high note.”
And that they did. Following a sixth place finish for the men’s team at the Ivy Heps, the band of runners came into the ICAAAA meet ranked 10th regionally looking to improve before a competitive outdoor season.
In the field, co-captain Julian Nunally threw 16.56 meters to claim seventh place in shotput at his last indoor meet wearing the crimson and white. In fact, the meet represented the last of the indoor portion of the season for the men’s team. Outdoor meets will commence following a two-week hiatus.
The women’s team, however, is not done quite yet. Ranked number one in the Northeast region and 37th—the only Ancient Eight team in the top 50—nationally, representatives of the team will travel to Texas A&M University next week for the NCAA indoor Championships.
Leading the team will be sophomore Gabby Thomas, competing in the 200-meter dash, having already broken several records of her own. Other representatives from the Crimson will include freshman Zoe Hughes in the pentathlon, senior Nikki Okwelogu in shotput, and freshman Judy Pendergast in the 5000-meter run. The four members traveling to Texas will be the largest group of racers Harvard has ever sent to the NCAA Indoor Championships.
For the men though, the season ended on a high note. With personal bests and yet another shattered record, the team is well prepared for the coming outdoor season.
“Our 4x4 time shows that we have been putting in a lot of work this off season and the past few months,” Marshall said. “Now we have all the right tools to compete really well come outdoors.”
—Staff writer Cade Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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