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Four School Records Fall for Harvard Track and Field at LSU and Wake Forest

Then-sophomore distance runner Graham Blanks runs at the Wake Forest Invitational on Apr. 21. Blanks set a new record in the 5000 m run at 13:24.91 to win the meet.
Then-sophomore distance runner Graham Blanks runs at the Wake Forest Invitational on Apr. 21. Blanks set a new record in the 5000 m run at 13:24.91 to win the meet. By Courtesy of Jan Figueroa
By Nadia A. Fairfax, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard track and field team sent athletes to three different meets this past weekend. The distance team traveled to the Sean Collier Invite at MIT and the Wake Forest Invitational in Winston-Salem, N.C., while sprinters and throwers headed down south to the LSU Alumni Gold meet. The team posted another weekend of strong results, breaking four records across the three meets.

At the Sean Collier Invite at MIT, first-year Michaela Denson won the women’s discus with a throw of 48.32 m, placing her fifth in program history. In the men’s discus throw, sophomore Eros Bottino took second place with a throw of 48.46 m.

Sophomore Jeremiah Swett placed third in the javelin with a throw of 44.59 m, and in the long and triple jump, junior Julius Ewungkem took third place and junior Noah Miles took second place, respectively.

For the runners, first-year Molly Malague won the women’s 3000 m steeplechase in 10:57.03 seconds. Senior Maya Rayle and sophomore Annelies Quinton both got on the podium for the women’s 1500 m run, placing in first and third respectively.

The distance runners continued their winning streak at Wake Forest, breaking three school records and an Ivy League record.

“The mindset for a lot of people is just like ‘race the competition’ with the main goal being to get a regional time qualifier,” said sophomore Graham Blanks about his teammates’ mindset going into the meet. “You let the race do its thing, compete with the other athletes, and you’ll probably get a good time out of it.”

Junior Maia Ramsden led the way for the Crimson, setting the new Harvard women’s 1500 m record by a full second, running 4:11.73 seconds to finish fourth in the event. Her new time puts her in 13th place in NCAA rankings. Her teammate first-year Penelope Salmon ran a time of 4:16.68 seconds to place 12th in the event, putting her in fourth place in the Crimson records books.

In the men’s 1500m run, first-year Vivien Henz ran a full three seconds faster than the previous Harvard record, setting the new time to beat in 3:39.78 seconds. His teammates sophomores Joe Ewing and Noah Ward followed shortly behind, securing second and fifth place in the Crimson record books.

“I guess I was more relieved than anything else,” said Henz in reflection on his new record. “It’s been a long time coming. I knew I was fit enough to break it, it was just a matter of when. It wasn’t really happening over the regular season but I got it done.”

Blanks, the Harvard and Ivy League record holder for the men’s 5000 m run, broke his own record again in a time of 13:24.91 seconds. His record-breaking race was enough to win the event, as well as earn him second place in the NCAA. Sophomore Ella Gilson ran a time of 16:16.52 seconds to get second place in the women’s 5000 m, and put her fifth place in Crimson history.

“I was pretty happy,” Blanks said about his new records. “A lot of the distance records have been falling over the past few years, so I wasn't elated or anything, which is a good sign for the program. Breaking a school record is kind of the expectation for Acer and [me] at this point.”

Harvard won the 10,000 m run, with junior Acer Iverson running 29:13.54 seconds to get first place in the men’s, and senior Eloise Freitag running 34:28.27 seconds to get first place in the women’s race. In the 3000m steeplechase, sophomore Isabella Goldstein and first-year Kristin Otervik took sixth and seventh place, respectively, placing themselves in the top three in Crimson history. In the men’s steeplechase, sophomore Reed Pryor ran a time of 8:50.63 seconds to take third place in the event and place him fourth in the record books.

“Everyone knew they were going to do well at that meet,” Henz reflected on the outcome of the meet. “We had eleven regional qualifiers. People were just coming in excited and they knew what they had to do.”

Over in Louisiana, the Harvard sprinters and throwers continued to have success. The throwers started the day off with multiple first-place finishes as well as a school record.

First, sophomore Kenneth Ikeji broke yet another school record, throwing 73.24 meters in the men’s hammer throw to win the event, as well as rank fourth in the NCAA. His throw was also far enough to set the facility record by a full centimeter.

In the same event for the women’s, senior Stephanie Ratcliffe won as well, throwing 69.50 m. Her teammate sophomore Cara Salsberry took third place with a throw of 57.19 m.

In the men’s shot put, senior Alexander Kolesnikoff took first place with a throw of 19.81 m, keeping up his undefeated streak in the event. Senior Sarah Omoregie and senior Estel Valeanu got first and second place in the women’s shot put, throwing 16.83 m and 16.01 m respectively.

Valeanu also returned for the women’s discus throw, where she took first place.

Sophomore Victoria Bossong ran a time of 2:06.53 seconds to earn first place in the women’s 800 m run, as well as put her third in the Harvard record books. The women’s 4x100 m relay team of first-years Cam Henry and Jonas Clarke and juniors Lance Ward and Jaeschel Achampeong ran a time of 40.19 seconds to tie their recently set school record in the event.

The women’s 4x400 m relay team of Bossong, sophomore Izzy Goudros, senior Tina Martin, and sophomore Chloe Fair earned second place with a time of 3:34.64, placing them third in the record books.

Next up, the team will travel to the historic Penn Relays hosted by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa. which takes place from Thursday, April 27th to April 29th.

“The goal stays the same, it’s just to win as a team,” Blanks said about the team’s Heptagonal Championships goals. “We’re excited to take another crack at a Heps Championship, and finally try to win one.”

“[For the distance guys] we lost this Fall to Princeton by two points, and at the indoor championships we lost by one point,” he continued. “Tensions are running high — it’s gonna be a pretty intense weekend. We’re all pretty excited and we’re just trying to set ourselves up the best we can to succeed and bring home that trophy.”

— Staff writer Nadia A. Fairfax can be reached at

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