Jason Saretsky is in his 11th season at the helm of men's and women's track and field and cross country programs at Harvard in 2015-16. Saretsky’s position, The William W. “Bill” McCurdy Director of Track and Field/Cross Country, became the 17th endowed coaching position at Harvard in the spring of 2013. Saretsky is just the 10th person to serve as head coach of the track and field program since Harvard began formal competition in 1874.
During Saretsky’s tenure with the Crimson, Harvard has had 29 All-America performances, including eight in the 2015-16 season alone. He has also mentored 40 NCAA qualifiers, 103 NCAA regional qualifiers, coached to eight individual ECAC/IC4A titles with 71 Heptagonal champions, and countless school records have fallen with more than 250 marks added to the program’s top-10 list.
Both the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams have been honored by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for their success in the classroom each year since Saretsky's arrival. The Crimson earned All-Academic honors for having a team GPA of 3.0 or better.
Harvard's 2015 cross country season was led by the emergence of Courtney Smith, who advanced to the NCAA Championships after leading the Crimson in every race. The Crimson women also claimed its first HYP title since 1995. On the men's side, Thomas Purnell tallied an individual championship at HYP. Both Crimson teams tallied top-10 finishes at the Coast to Coast Battle of Beantown and NCAA Northeast Regional.
Saretsky led the Crimson to an unprecedented year in 2013-14, as he was named the USTFCCCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year for the outdoor season. The men and women combined to send a record number of athletes to both the NCAA Championships (seven) and the NCAA East Regional (28). The women won both the indoor and outdoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championships for the second time in program history. The Harvard women also set nine program records, while the men totaled the most points at Heps since 1983.
The successes were plentiful for Saretsky’s teams in 2012-13, beginning with the cross country season. The women’s squad earned its first trip to the NCAA Championships since 1983, thanks to a fourth-place finish at NCAA regionals. The men also saw a pair of runners qualify for the NCAA individual championships.
The indoor season saw the women capture their first Ivy League championship since 2000, earning Saretsky USTFCCCA Northeast Region Women’s Coach of the Year accolades. The women’s team also yielded a trio of NCAA qualifiers, all of whom went on to earn All-America honors. Saretsky also witnessed the men’s indoor team take third at the league championship meet, its best finish since the 1985 Championships. Saretsky mentored a record number of NCAA regional qualifiers in the outdoor season as 18 student-athletes represented Harvard at the NCAA East Preliminary meet. Four more student-athletes earned All-America honors, qualifying for the NCAA Championships in four different events.
In all, Saretsky’s teams yielded seven All-America performances, 17 Heptagonal champions and 11 school records during the 2012-13 season.
Saretsky witnessed a banner year in 2011-12 as the Crimson added 103 new marks to the indoor and outdoor track and field all-time top-10 lists, along with eight school records between the indoor and outdoor seasons. Pole vaulter Nico Weiler '13 broke both the indoor and outdoor school records, captured the IC4A title and went on to earn first team All-America accolades for the second time in his career. The men's outdoor track and field team also recorded its best finish in a decade at the Heptagonal Championships, taking third at the competition. Allie Pace '14 followed in Weiler's footsteps, setting both the indoor and outdoor program marks in the pole vault.
The 2010-11 season saw the Crimson attain four new program records in both indoor and outdoor track and field competitions. Harvard had 12 student-athletes earn All-Ivy League honors, including four that captured Ivy individual titles (Nico Weiler ’13/Pole Vault, Dustin Brode ’14/Shot Put, Claire Richardson ’11/3,000, Hannah Mayer ’14/javelin). The men’s team recorded its best finish at Outdoor Heps since 2002, placing fourth in the competition, while the women posted the highest score in team history at the ECAC Indoor Championships. The Crimson also sent the largest contingent of athletes to NCAA Regionals in the history of the program, with 11 competitors qualifying. Brian Hill ’11 went onto qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 800 and Dan Chenoweth ’11 qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships for the third time in his career.
Saretsky helped three runners qualify for the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships, as Chenoweth, Kaylin Kuzmuk '12 and Claire Richardson '11 represented the Crimson. Richardson went onto qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 5,000 meter run. Both the Harvard men's and women's teams finished in the top half of the league standings at Indoor Heps for the first time since 2002.
In 2008-09, the Harvard women had their best finish at the Indoor Heptagonal Championships since 2002, finishing third with 79.5 points. At the ECAC/IC4A Indoor Championships, both the men’s and women’s teams were the top Ivy League finishers. Two Harvard athletes earned All-America honors in Becky Christensen ’09 and Nico Weiler ’13, as Weiler won the IC4As and the East Regional en route to his sixth-place finish in the pole vault, earning him USTFCCCA Northeast Field Athlete of the Year accolades.
Thirty-five top-10 times were added to the record books during the 2007-08 track and field season. Christensen won the indoor and outdoor high jump title at Heps, won the ECAC outdoor championships, earned All-America honors and cleared a personal best of 1.84 meters in the final at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Favia Merritt ’09 helped set two school records at Outdoor Heps, leading the women’s team to its best finish at the meet since 2003, placing fourth.
Saretsky came to Harvard following his success as the associate head coach of the track and cross country programs at Iona College, where we worked directly under head coach Mike Bryne, who was a four-time Northeast Coach of the Year.
During Saretsky’s time at Iona, the Gaels enjoyed unprecedented success. He helped Iona's men's cross country team to four-consecutive top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships, including a pair of fourth-place finishes, and three NCAA regional titles in four years. Iona's women's cross country program won its first two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference titles and registered its best finish in school history at the NCAA regional meet in 2005. Saretsky assisted in coaching the men’s cross country team to their 15th-consecutive MAAC Championship and the women’s cross country team to its first two MAAC Championships as well as 21 school records on the track. He coached 18 individuals to the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships, where 14 earned All-America honors in distance events.
Saretsky also is credited with promoting diversity by continuing to expand the international scope of Iona's recruiting efforts and bringing the women's program to the cusp of national prominence. His recruiting techniques brought in the most Dean Scholar candidates in Iona school history.
Before joining the staff at Iona, Saretsky spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Columbia University, where he worked directly with the Lions' distance and middle distance runners and enhanced the program's recruiting efforts. At both Columbia and Iona, Saretsky implemented a new stretching routine and provided massage therapy which drastically reduced the team’s injuries.
Saretsky was a standout student-athlete in his own right as an undergraduate at Columbia. He was an Ivy League Heptagonal champion in the 3,200 relay, a member of Columbia's school-record relay squad in that event, and was a two-time All-Ivy League performer.
Saretsky graduated from Columbia in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. He added a master's degree in applied physiology from Columbia's Teachers College in 2001 and a master's in business administration from Iona's Hagan School of Business in 2006.