Although junior Maia Ramsden has only competed on the Harvard track and field and cross country teams for two seasons, her name is quickly taking up a lot of real estate in the Harvard Athletics record book.
After a strong sophomore campaign in 2021-22, Ramsden emerged as an anchor of the women’s track and field program in 2022-23, captaining the team to a historic season that included victories at the Ivy League Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor championships.
A native of New Zealand, Ramsden has been a star on the track even since her years before Harvard. Ramsden won the U20 New Zealand National Championship in the 1500 m and the 800 m, and she earned New Zealand National Silver honors in the 800 m at the U18 levels.
Ramsden was also a decorated performer during her time at the International Community School of Addis Ababa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She holds the International Schools of Southern and Eastern Africa (ISSEA) records in the 400 m, 800 m, and 1500 m, and she was twice honored as an ISSEA All-Star.
Ramsden kicked off her campaign with a cross country victory in the 5000 m race at the Sept. 10th HYP meet against Yale and Princeton. In late September, she finished seventh at the Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree in the 6000 m with a time of 20:32.7, and took home another seventh place ranking at the Nuttycombe Invite in Wisconsin two weeks later, improving to a time of 20:04.5.
At the Ivy League Championships on Oct. 28th, Ramsden won the Ivy League individual title in the 6000 m with a time of 20:42.4, leading the Crimson to a league title. Less than two weeks later, Ramsden secured a spot in the NCAA Championship meet with another 6000 m win at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships, this time posting a 20:20.6 result, but she saved her best time of the season for the mid-November national championships, finishing in 11th with a time of 19:52.3 to cap off a stellar fall cross country season.
After posting a season-best time in cross country’s biggest meet of the year, Ramsden hit the ground running at the start of the track and field indoor season, setting a school record in the 3000 m with a time of 8:54 at the HBCU and Ivy Challenge. Ramsden picked up her record-setting ways soon after winter break, setting a program record in the 1000m at the HYP Meet in late January.
“I’ve never run the 1000 meters before, so I knew I was going to PR since I didn’t have any other time,” she noted. “I really wasn’t sure what was going to happen — it was a really pleasant surprise, I’d say.”
Despite another strong performance, the junior noted that there were lessons to be learned in Harvard’s team defeat to Princeton.
“Our coach is pretty keen on us peaking at the right time,” Ramsden said. “I think that at first that means on the scoreboard — Princeton beats us, but in the long term, it’s better because we’re learning to adapt to new races.”
The next weekend, Ramsden broke a 43-year-old school record in the mile run in a time of 4:30.19 at Boston University’s Scarlet and White meet. Ramsden finished first in the entire collegiate field in the race and rose to second place in the entire NCAA with her historic time. While she could not match her school record at the Ivy League Indoor Championships in late February, Ramsden won two gold medals with first-place finishes in the mile and 1000 m. Her stellar performance earned her the Ivy League Most Valuable Track Athlete award.
After finishing the Ivy League season with a dominant performance, Ramsden earned First-Team All-American honors in two events at the NCAA Indoor Championships in N.M. in mid-March. In her first event of the meet, Ramsden finished fifth in the mile with a time of 4:36.54, and she followed up with a ninth-place finish in the 3000 m only hours later, securing a spot on the podium each time to complete a brilliant outdoor season, one that saw the track and field team send its biggest group of athletes to the national championship in 17 years.
“I was incredibly proud of Maia,” said track and field head coach Jason Saretsky. “She certainly is the epitome of a student athlete, pursuing academic and athletic excellence, and for her to have that recognition in front of her peers was just a testament to her hard work and how dedicated she is as a student athlete.”
With the outdoor season in full swing, Ramsden posted a dominant performance at the 126th biannual Harvard-Yale Oxford-Cambridge meet. After winning the 1500 m in 4:15.77, Ramsden dominated the 5000 m, setting a personal record of 16:08.27 and securing victory by a margin of 15 seconds. She posted another strong 1500 m time two weeks later to finish fourth at Wake Forest, taking second place in the Harvard record book and rising to 13th in the nation.
In the final Ivy League competition of the season, the captain defended her 2022 title in the 1500 m, winning by three seconds in a time of 4:12.54. She won the 5000 m title only five hours later, taking the lead in the final lap to earn the individual Most Outstanding Track Performer award. The women’s team won its sixth ever Ivy League title, and first since 2017, behind Ramsden’s dominance.
“I think that’s a lot different than last year, where I was just going to race with the field, sit on the leader, and kind of make it fast if we have to,” Ramsden said after the championship. “This year we kind of had some goals for what the first half of the race should look like, and that was to go out pretty hard. I ended up going out a little too hard, but it worked out in the end.”
The junior captain has another chance to secure some national hardware at the upcoming NCAA Regionals and Indoor Championships in June, but regardless of the outcome, Ramsden’s consistent brilliance on the track has entrenched her place in the Harvard record books, and her leadership and teamwork has helped push the Crimson to a historic and unforgettable season.
“I think it’s a reflection of our program, the more qualifiers we can have at NCAA Regionals. So definitely trying to help and support and motivate as many people as we can this first weekend.”
— Staff writer Aaron B. Shuchman can be reached at email@example.com.