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The Harvard men’s and women’s track and field teams ran historic races and set new records for events this past weekend. The Crimson competed at the Clemson Tiger Paw Invite at Clemson University and the Valentine Invitational at Boston University over February 10 and 11, and the team saw great success.
“The [two meets] that the team competed in this past weekend were two of the five most competitive, most anticipated meets of the indoor track season in the country,” junior Lance Ward said. “We stepped up and performed at that high level.”
Up first, the throwers and pole vaulters posted a dominant performance at the BU Valentine Invitational.
Sophomore Anastasia Retsa won the women’s pole vault event, setting a new school record in the process. Retsa set a mark of 4.17 m, making her the only vaulter to surpass the 3.90 m mark at the entire meet. Senior Estel Valeanu improved on her previous personal bests in the throwing events. She first won the shot put event, throwing a mark of 13.93 m that bumped her up to third place in the Harvard record books. She then secured another victory in the weight throw event as well, throwing the first place mark of 19.08 m, which was also good enough to get third place in the Harvard record books.
On the track, the Crimson smashed school and Ivy records.
Sophomore Graham Blanks secured his third Harvard and Ivy League record with his 7:44.76 second run in the 3000 m. The time earned him second place in a field of 219 runners. Junior Acer Iverson was right behind him, running a personal best of 7:47.74 seconds, which puts him in second place in the Harvard and Ivy League record books. First-year Vivien Henz, who just set the Luxembourg indoor mile record at the Scarlet and White meet this past week, earned himself another record. The Valentine Invitational set the record for the most men to run a mile under four minutes at one meet with 52, doubling the previous record of 26. Henz was a part of the mix, running a 3:57.87.
When it comes to the records the Crimson are breaking, the team is looking to surpass the previous number broken in a season.
“Last year we set a record in terms of how many records we broke, which was around 20, counting both indoor and outdoor seasons,” Ward said. “But this year, we’re on pace to crush that as well. I think we’re up to the mid to high teens of records being broken this indoor season alone, so it’s pretty exciting.”
At the Clemson Tiger Paw Invite, Harvard continued to set historic marks.
Ward beat his previous school record in the indoor 200 m race, running a time of 21.07 seconds. The time was the best he ever ran in the event, indoor or outdoor.
“It was pretty awesome,” said Ward about his record breaking race. “The meet at Clemson had a crazy atmosphere. There were tons of big schools, lots of top ten times were run in the NCAA at that meet, so the environment was just electric. When the time came, I was just like, you gotta kind of trust it.”
Sophomore Victoria Bossong ran a 2:08.81 second 800 m, which was enough to bump her up to eighth all time in the Harvard record books.
“This meet was the first competition during our indoor season where we had fantastic competition surrounding us,” said Bossong. “Our coach’s advice was to take advantage of the opportunity presented to us and to compete with intensity and heart.”
The meet ended with the Crimson’s women 4x400 team setting a new school and Ivy League record in the event, running a 3:34.17 to beat the previous record by almost a second. The team included Bossong, sophomore Izzy Goudros, senior Tina Martin, and sophomore Chloe Fair.
One of the biggest motivations for the success the team has had is the community and bond the team maintains.
“I’m just fortunate to be able to train alongside those other awesome athletes,” Ward reflected. “We really push each other in practice. When that translates to success on the track, we all celebrate that with each other.”
Looking towards the Ivy League Indoor Championships, Harvard is looking to be competitive with the rest of the teams in the Ivy League, especially their biggest competitor, the Princeton Tigers.
“The women’s team is ranked 20th in the country right now, and they’re looking to annihilate the rest of the Ivy League at indoor championships,” said Ward. “I think they’re very equipped and ready to do that. The men’s team is pretty neck and neck with Princeton this year, and we’re looking to topple them. I think we can. I think I know this program can accomplish that if everything goes right.”
Next up, Harvard competes at the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame on February 18, which will be their last regular season meet. Their indoor season commences with the Ivy League Championships the following weekend.
— Staff writer Nadia A. Fairfax can be reached at email@example.com
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