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Harvard Track and Field Excels at the Riverhawk Invitational and John Thomas Terrier Classic

The Harvard track and field team posted solid performances at two meets this past weekend.
The Harvard track and field team posted solid performances at two meets this past weekend. By Courtesy of the Ivy League
By Nadia A. Fairfax, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard track and field team capped off a successful weekend at the Riverhawk Invitational and John Thomas Terrier Classic meets with a slew of new records, personal bests, and top-10 finishes.

Triumphing in a range of events, the first of the squad’s positive finishes was recognized in freshman jumper Tito Alofe’s dominance at the Riverhawk Invitational, where he set a new personal best in the high jump. Alofe had already set the Crimson’s men’s high jump record at the HBCU/Ivy Challenge, when he jumped 2.20m to clinch the record. Alofe bested his record this past Saturday, jumping 2.22m to secure a first place finish in the event. With the 2.22m high jump mark, Alofe is tied for third in the event in the NCAA.

“I felt relieved,” Alofe said about his record-breaking jump. “I got the record [on] my third and final attempt at 2.22m and the previous two meets I had jumped subpar heights. I had put a lot of pressure on myself, so as soon as I landed and hadn’t felt the bar at all it was like a weight had lifted off my shoulders. The height moved my national ranking back up to top three and essentially secured me a spot to compete at nationals, so a lot more was riding on the jump in my mind than it may have looked.”

For Alofe, preparing for the high jump at this meet was a matter of following his coach’s advice: to remain relaxed and confident of his abilities.

“My coach does a really good job of staying very calm and collected regardless of the heights I clear or miss,” Alofe said. “He seemed very confident that I could clear the bar despite my initial misses and his general composure helped boost my confidence. I’m not the most polished jumper as far as form, so my coach cares more about my execution of the form things that we work on in practice than the actual heights that I clear. He told me that if I focused on my form and did what I had worked on then I would easily clear the bar, and he was right.”

Several other athletes posted impressive performances as well. Junior thrower Kenneth Ikeji threw 21.74m in the weight throw for a first place finish in the event. Ikeji holds the Crimson’s weight throw record, and recently represented Harvard in the Outdoor NCAAs.

“One of the biggest things I’ve been looking forward to is watching all of my teammates make season debuts,” Alofe said about watching his teammates’ performances. “I get especially excited for my freshmen teammates who make their collegiate debuts. We have lots of talent on our team, and after seeing how hard everyone works at practice everyday, it’s almost cathartic to see them succeed on the day of competition.”

The squad will look to capitalize on positive momentum in its two upcoming meets this Friday and Saturday.
The squad will look to capitalize on positive momentum in its two upcoming meets this Friday and Saturday. By Courtesy of Jan Figueroa

Standout performances from Crimson athletes were not confined to just the Riverhawk Invitational. At the John Thomas Terrier Classic, Crimson runners also posted solid times. Senior sprinter Gregory Lapit ran the men’s 200m dash and took eighth place with a time of 21.74 seconds. Sophomore Fabiola Belibi ran the 60m hurdles and took second place with a time of 8.53 seconds, which is also a personal record for the sprinter. In the 200m dash, junior Egbe Ndip-Agbor earned ninth place with a time of 24.58 seconds.

Freshman Sophia Gorriaran represented the Crimson well in the 500m run. The middle distance runner ran a time of 1:11.99 seconds, which earned her second place in the event, and third in the Crimson’s record book. Junior Ellaney Matarese ran the 1000m run and finished with a time of 2:46.30 seconds to earn tenth place.

Sprinter and middle distance runner junior Victoria Bossong also raced up to standard. The veteran took on a highly competitive field of 800m runners, running a personal best of 2:04.72 seconds to take ninth place in the race.

The Harvard track and field team will look to build upon its stellar performances in its next competition on Friday at the Crimson Elite & Multi meet, which will be hosted by Harvard. The following day, the team will travel to Boston University’s Track and Tennis Center for the Scarlet & White event.

– Staff writer Nadia Fairfax can be reached at nadia.fairfax@thecrimson.com.

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