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Harvard Track and Field Sends Largest Group of Athletes to NCAA Championships in 17 Years

Sophomore thrower Kenneth Ikeji competes in the Ivy League Championships, at which Harvard men's track and field team lost to Princeton by one point, taking second place. Ikeji is one of the sixth Harvard athletes that qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships that will take place this weekend.
Sophomore thrower Kenneth Ikeji competes in the Ivy League Championships, at which Harvard men's track and field team lost to Princeton by one point, taking second place. Ikeji is one of the sixth Harvard athletes that qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships that will take place this weekend. By Courtesy of Lexie Mehallis/Harvard Athletics
By Nadia A. Fairfax, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard track and field is set to take the stage at the 2023 NCAA Division I Indoor Championships for Track and Field this weekend following a season of record-breaking victory. Most recently, senior John Minicus was the only athlete who competed for Harvard at the IC4A/ECAC championships at Boston University this past Saturday, March 4. Minicus represented the Crimson well, as he stood in second place for the men’s pentathlon with a score of 5128 points — a score high enough for Minicus to mark a new Harvard record in the event.

Minicus had stand-out performances, including winning two events in the pentathlon. He won the long jump with a mark of 6.74 m and won the 60 m hurdles with a time of 8.36 seconds.

The ICAC/ECAC championship meet followed the Ivy League Championships the previous week, where the women’s team defended its second Ivy League Heptagonal Championship title. At the conclusion of the league championships, head coach Jason Saretsky was named the Ivy League Women’s Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year.

Going into the Ivy League Heptagonal Championship meet, the Crimson coach had goals for the track and field team.

“We try to focus on what we can control,” said Saretsky in reference to the team’s mindset heading into Heptagonal Championships. “And if we do what we’ve been doing all season to get us to that point, we’re gonna have a good meet.”

The team had more than just a good meet, with the women’s team taking home the gold with more than 25 points over runner-up, Princeton.

“I was certainly proud of all our team members — not just those that made the trip to Dartmouth, but our entire squad,” said the head coach about the team’s performance at the Heptagonal Championships. “We’ve got over 110 student-athletes, and it really is a testament to all of them. Their hard work and how committed they are to the program allowed us to have this success.”

For the track and field team, making sure that athletes are well prepared on the track as well as in academics is a key goal.

“We’re always striving for academic and athletic excellence here with Harvard and Track and Field, and we want to be the best versions of ourselves,” Sarestky said.

The Crimson achieved those goals with 27 athletes earning All-Ivy honors at the conclusion of the Heptagonal Championships. In addition, Seniors Stephanie Ratcliffe and Alexander Kolesnikoff were named to the Academic All-Ivy team.

“We’re really proud and pleased with how well the indoor season went, and particularly for the women defending the Ivy League Championship,” Saretsky reflected. “Getting and keeping the trophy here, as well as getting the most points scored by any Ivy League women’s team indoors, so it’s an incredible accomplishment for them.”

The team had a number of standout performances over the course of the championships, with 16 individual and relay first-place finishes.

“In terms of individuals, it’s easy to point to those who were recognized by the Ivy League coaches for their most outstanding performances — Stephanie Ratcliffe, Kenny Ikeji for the field event performers, and Maia Ramsden for the track performer,” said Coach Saretsky about the team’s most exciting performances during championships. “I personally thought Graham Blanks in his triple was fairly heroic, winning the 3K and 5K, and then 20 minutes later anchoring the DMR with the second fastest mile in the field to help the team get fifth place was remarkable.”

In regards to the large number of records broken by the team this season, Coach Saretsky also had some food for thought, saying “It was a lot of fun and really exciting, a testament to their hard work and dedication. It’s one of those things that you don’t want to take for granted, records are hard to break.”

Looking forward, Harvard track and field competes next in the 2023 NCAA Indoor Championships and will send six athletes to Albuquerque, N.M. to represent the Crimson. To qualify for the event, the athletes had to have received a mark that ranked within the top 16 in the nation.

“This is the largest contingent since I’ve been here, that we’ll be sending to the indoor national championships,” said Sarestky about the athletes who have qualified for the highly anticipated NCAA tournament.

Sophomore Izzy Goudros, ranked 13th in the nation, will represent Harvard in the women’s pentathlon, her score for the event at 4173 points. Her teammate junior Maia Ramsden will also compete for the women’s team, doubling in the women’s mile and 3000 m run. Her time of 4:30.19 seconds in the mile places her at an impressive second place standing in the nation, while her 3000 m time of 8:54.39 seconds places her in eighth place.

Sophomore Graham Blanks and teammate junior Acer Iverson will both run in the men’s 5000m, being ranked 7th and 13th in the nation respectively.

On the throwing side, two athletes from the men’s team will compete for the Crimson, including sophomore Kenneth Ikeji in the men’s weight throw, and senior Alexander Kolesnikoff in the men’s shot put.

“I’ve always found that the indoor nationals is maybe the hardest one to get to, since it’s the top 16 declared in each event for any performance throughout the season,” Saretsky commented. “I’m excited for the six athletes that we have competing in New Mexico and seeing how they stack up against the nation’s best.”

— Staff writer Nadia A. Fairfax can be reached at

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