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The Harvard track and field teams competed in two meets this past weekend: the Crimson Elite and Multi, hosted at Gordon Track, and the Scarlet and White Invitational across the river at Boston University. The team saw great success, with multiple school records broken, as well as standout performances that resulted in a national record.
At the Crimson Elite & Multi meet, several athletes surpassed school records and recorded personal bests. Sophomore Izzy Goudros won the pentathlon event with a score of 4173, enough to put her in third place in the NCAA rankings. Her long jump, set down at 6.20 m, even posted a new school record in the event. Sophomore Anastasia Retsa joined her teammate to set another school record in the women’s pole vault with her jump of 4.16 m.
On the throws side, senior Stephanie Ratcliffe won the weight throw event with a throw of 21.58 m, taking first place by just a single meter. Moving towards the track, first-year Mfoniso Andrew ran a 55.97-second 400 m dash to win the event. Her teammate, first-year Jackie Okereke took third place with a 56.83-second performance.
Senior John Minicus moved up to second on the Harvard leaderboard for the men’s heptathlon after he won the heptathlon shot put, throwing a 13.05 m and taking second in the high jump at 1.90 m.
While some Harvard runners were breaking records on their own turf, many of the Crimson smashed even more records at BU.
First, junior Maia Ramsden ran a 4:30.19 mile time, breaking the previous 43-year-old Harvard record which was set in 1980 by Darlene Beckford ‘83, a former Ivy League champion who never lost a single meet on Harvard’s track. The time was enough to put her second in the NCAA this season.
On the men’s side, the Harvard men’s distance team had three runners finish the mile in under four minutes.
Sophomore Graham Blanks followed the lead, taking second place in the mile and setting a new Harvard and Ivy League record in the mile at 3:56.63, putting him in the 13th spot for the NCAA. His teammates followed shortly behind, with first-year Vivien Henz running a 3:57.47 and junior Acer Iverson running a 3:58.27 to finish fourth and fifth respectively. For Henz, racing with one another gave him and the team a sense of camaraderie.
“I think that seeing all three of us, Acer, Graham, and I, break four minutes just felt good because you do it as teammates, you do it in the same race – it’s comforting,” said Henz in reference to the mile race. “When you race your teammates like that, there’s a sense of familiarity. You’re not in the unknown, you’re not racing strangers, you know their racing etiquette.”
Henz’s mile time — the first time he ever ran it — was good enough to earn him the Luxembourg national record in the indoor mile, beating the previous record by over ten seconds.
“Coach told me not to think about the clock and just race the people in the heat, not the clock,” Henz reflected. His teammate, Blanks, had similar remarks about the strategy going into the race.
“That’s what our coach usually likes to tell us,” Blanks said. “In the indoor season, I think it’s easier to focus on the time because it feels like it’s all about time. He just wanted us to get in line with all the people and just relax, find the pacemaker, so that way once the pacemaker stepped off, we could focus in and then start trying to go from there.”
Harvard’s sprinters also had impressive performances on the track at Scarlet & White. Sophomore Victoria Bossong won the 500-meter run with a time of 1:10.23, setting yet another new record. This particular time is more than a second faster than her previous personal best, which she set just a week prior at the HYP meet.
In addition, sophomore Chloe Fair ran a 53.63-second 400 m second-place finish, which brought her to the third spot in the school record book.
The Harvard women’s 4x400 team left it all on the track, with Bossong, Goudros, senior Tina Martin, and Fair winning the event in the time of 3:36.79. On the men’s sprinting side, junior Peter Diebold and senior Max Serrano-Wu took third and fourth place in the men’s 500-meter run, with times of 1:03.02 seconds and 1:03.99 respectively.
“It’s not surprising. I was expecting that,” said Henz about the records falling. “We have a great bunch in the distance and middle distance group. Everyone knows what they’re in for, everyone trains hard, so it’s just collecting the rewards of the hard work we did over the fall season and winter break.”
Looking forward, the Crimson is keeping its eyes locked on the Ivy League Championships.
“We’d love to win the Ivy League Championship as a track team, which is something we haven’t done in a while, especially against the very competitive Princeton team,” Blanks said.
“I think it comes down to just wanting to see people on the team come up with personal records, stay healthy, and get ready for the outdoor season.”
Next up for Harvard is the Clemson Tiger Paw Invitational in South Carolina and Valentine Invitational at Clemson and Boston University on February 10 and 11.
— Staff writer Nadia A. Fairfax can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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