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At the UConn Northeast Challenge, Harvard track and field engineered another successful weekend. The team had two field athletes break their own previous records, as well as eight first-place finishes. Both the Harvard men’s and women’s teams currently lead the northeast region in the national rankings.
When asked about the meet, junior Lance Ward said, “Some teams we’re familiar with – it kind of felt pretty comfortable. I think we all came in there knowing exactly what we had to do, knowing what to expect. We all had quite a bit of fun this weekend, and the familiar environment of the meet kind of helped with that.”
The field athletes set the tone first for Harvard.
Sophomore Izzy Goudros got things started for the Crimson. The school record-holder for the women’s heptathlon broke the Harvard and Ivy League record yet again with a score of 5769, putting her in third place in the NCAA.
“It was definitely very exciting,” said Goudros about her record-breaking performance. “One of the goals going [into the meet] was to break that record again, to get a good mark to hopefully qualify for Nationals in Texas. It was super fun to compete with my teammates as well, it’s the first time in a while [that] I’ve gotten to [compete] with the two other multis on the team, so that was nice having all of Harvard track by my side.”
Her teammate junior Jada Johnson followed behind, taking second place with a score of 5230, placing her fifth in the record books. Senior John Minicus broke the school record for the men’s decathlon, scoring 6878 to place second in the event.
“It was really cool to watch him do that this weekend,” said Ward about Minicus’ performance. “It was something he talked about for a while, and I didn’t doubt he could make it happen.”
Sophomore Anastasia Retsa jumped 4.05 m to win the women’s pole vault and was the only competitor to clear four meters in the event. Senior Estel Valeanu won the women’s discus with a throw of 52.57 m. Valeanu also returned on the second day to win the women’s shot put, throwing 15.29 m. In the women’s hammer throw, senior Cammy Garabian and sophomore Cara Salsberry took second and third place, throwing 62.07 m and 59.79 m, respectively.
Sophomore Kenneth Ikeji represented the men’s throwing team well, taking first place in the men’s hammer throw with a mark of 69.58 m.
On the track, the Harvard sprint team followed suit with some top finishes of its own.
The women’s 4x100 m relay team ran a time of 45.20 seconds to take second place, a time that puts them fourth in Crimson history.
The men’s 4x100 m relay ran a time of 40.23 seconds to take first place in the event. Their time puts them second in the Crimson record books, a mere .04 seconds off of the previous school record which was set early this outdoor season.
“It was exciting for sure,” said Ward about the men’s 4x100m win. “We had two new members on the 4x100m step up, both of them [were] first years. We ran it this time with them and ended up running the second fastest time in Harvard history.”
“The first fastest time we set was earlier this spring in Houston, so we are very excited about how much depth we have in that event,” Ward continued. “We have six or seven guys that could easily all step up and just knock it out of the park, so it was really exciting to be a part of that.”
Sophomore Victoria Bossong ran 53.80 seconds in the women’s 400m dash, taking first in the event. In the women’s 200 m, first-year Adaji Osaro-Igwe won the women’s 200m dash in 23.71 seconds. In the same event on the men’s side, Ward ran 20.65 seconds to also take first place.
“For the 200 [m], I think I was just having a lot of fun with that one,” Ward said in reflection about his race. “It’s my favorite event, and I drew a good lane. I was like, ‘Okay, let’s just have fun with it today.’”
In the last event of the day, Bossong returned to lead off the women’s 4x400m, along with first years Mfoniso Andrew, Jacklynn Okere, and senior Tina Martin, and the group ran a time of 3:40.30 seconds to win the event.
The Harvard women’s team currently holds half of the Ivy League records, an impressive 11 out of 22.
“Different groups are going to different places,” Ward said. “The distance team is going to Wake Forest, and the sprints and throws groups are going to LSU – those are two really big meets, there’s gonna be some great competition, so we’re looking to run really fast times and jump far and throw far.
Part of the team will travel a few Redline stops down to MIT for the Sean Collier Invite. This meet was named in honor of the MIT police officer Sean Collier killed by the Boston Marathon bombers in 2013. This year marked the tenth anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings.
The team will also travel south to Louisiana State University (LSU) and Wake Forest University in its second-to-last weekend of meets ahead of the Ivy League Outdoor Championships.
“I think the whole team is very excited at this point,” Goudros added about the future of the season. “The energy is definitely high. We’re going to our last kind of big travel meet this weekend at LSU.
“Everything’s coming together, so we’re all looking forward to hopefully getting the triple crown. Our cross country girls won it in the fall, and we won it this indoor season, so hopefully we can do it in outdoors.”
— Staff writer Nadia A. Fairfax can be reached at email@example.com.
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