Senior Efe Uwaifo will compete in the triple jump on Saturday at the Penn Relays. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard track and field is set for the 123rd Penn Relays and Stonehill's Skyhawk Invitational this weekend. The Penn Relays will kick off today and run through Saturday while the Skyhawk Invitational will take place on Sunday.
The Penn Relays will have thousands of athletes and, potentially, up to 100,000 spectators in attendance for the 14th time since the turn of the century. The action at Franklin Field is set to begin Thursday at 9 a.m. and finish up Saturday evening. Harvard will have nine student-athletes entered in seven events.
At Stonehill College, action at the Skyhawk Invitational will get underway at 10:30 a.m. at WB Mason Stadium.
THE LAST TIME OUT
Harvard sent a large contingent of competitors to California this weekend to compete at the Cardinal Classic hosted by Stanford University in a two-day meet.
Sophomore sprinter Gabby Thomas won the 100-meter dash in 11.39, her second event win of the spring season in the 100 meters. On day 1, Thomas placed second in the long jump, shattering Harvard's previous school record in the event by reaching 20'8". Freshman Simi Fajemisin also continued her impressive debut season at Harvard, placing third in the long jump, by reaching 20'2.25", a mark that was also beyond the previous school record.
In addition, Harvard's 4x100-meter women's relay team ran the second fastest time in Ivy League history, finishing in 44.87.
Other day 2 highlights included Julian Nunally placing third in the shot put with one of his best efforts of the season at 55'4.75". Nunally also placed third in the discus throw at 172'1" Efe Uwaifo also took third place in the triple jump, reaching 50'4.75" on his second jump of the day.
FULL RECAP: Records Fall as Track and Field Competes at Cardinal Classic and Sean Collier Invite
HARVARD IN NCAA QUALIFYING RANKS
As we approach the end of the regular season, Harvard track and field has several individuals in position to qualify for the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Championships, held in Lexington, Kentucky.
On the men's side, senior Julian Nunally's 179'10" effort in the discus at the Cougar Spring Break Invitational places him 27th in the East region. Sophomore Myles Marshall has the 13th fastest time in the 800-meter run at 1:47.79, which he recorded at the Cardinal Classic this past weekend.
For the Harvard women, six individuals currently hold qualifying marks in eight different events, while the 4x400-meter relay team (21st, 3.37.73) is also in the mix. Sophomore sprinter Gabby Thomas has the No. 1 time in the region in the 200-meter dash (22.60), and the No. 6 time in the 100-meter dash (11.24). Thomas is also in line to qualify in the long jump (20'7") after her effort at the Cardinal Classic put her 15th in the region.
Senior Jade Miller holds the No. 5 time in the 400-meter hurdles (56.41). Freshman Simi Fajemisin is currently No. 24 with a triple jump effort of 41'11.25". In the discus, senior Nikki Okwelogu is 12th in the East with a 176'6" mark, and in the shotput she is 24th with her throw of 51'11.25" at the Mt. SAC Relays last weekend. Freshman Zoe Hughes is also on track to be a qualifier after her impressive showing two weeks ago in California, ranking 6th in the region in the heptathlon with 5444 points collected. Freshman Lisa Tertsch ranks 20th in the region in the 3000m steeplechase (10:22.76) and is also in line to qualify.
THOMAS' 200M TIME AMONG WORLD BEST
Gabby Thomas' 22.60 mark in the 200-meter dash at the Florida Relays on March 31 matches Veronica Campbell-Brown (Jamaica) and Felicia Brown for the fifth fastest time in the world in the event so far in 2017, according to the IAAF.
IAAF 2017 TOP 200M LIST
BY THE NUMBERS
1: Harvard's women's team finished the indoor season as the top-ranked program in the Northeast region.
3: Three Harvard student-athletes earned All-America recognition during the indoor season - Gabby Thomas (200m, 1st Team), Zoe Hughes (pentathlon, 2nd Team) and Nikki Okwelogu (shot put, 2nd Team).
3: Senior captain Efe Uwaifo captured his third straight Ivy Indoor Heps title in the triple jump, sealing the win on his final jump of the day (15.82m).
4: By nature of having a nationally-ranked top-16 mark – Zoe Hughes (pentathlon), Nikki Okwelogu (shotput), Judy Pendergast (5000m), and Gabby Thomas (200m) competed at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. The four qualifiers are the most that Harvard had at NCAA Indoors.
5: Harvard's women's team won its fifth-consecutive Ivy League Indoor Championship and seventh in program history.
6: Six Harvard records fell during the 2016-17 indoor campaign – sophomore Gabby Thomas new school marks in the 60m (7.29s) and 200m (22.88) at Indoor Heps, freshman Simi Fajemisin broke school records in the long jump (6.09m) and triple jump (12.96m) at Indoor Heps, and Myles Marshall owns the school record in the 800m run (1:48.17). The men's 4x400 meter relay team of James Heckendorn, Myles Marshall, Matt Hurst, and Alexander Moore set a new school record at the IC4A Championships, placing first in the preliminary round with a time of 3:10.84.
10: Judy Pendergast owned the 10th-fastest time nationally in the 5,000 meters at 15:52.64.
11.24: Gabby Thomas set a new school record in the 100-meter dash, finishing with the top time among collegiate athletes at the Florida Relays, finishing in 11.24. Thomas has the third fastest time on the NCAA Division I East Qualifying list.
16: Nikki Okwelogu's toss in the shot put at the H-Y-P meet traveled 55-3 (16.84 meters), and the mark is the best in the Ivy League by nearly six feet.
20'0.25": Gabby Thomas broke a 15-year old school record in the long jump at the HYOC Meet by reaching 6.10 meters (20'0.25").
32: Freshman Anthony DeNitto captured the Ivy Indoor Heps title with a monster third jump of the competition, shattering his own personal mark (7.00m) with a 7:37m jump. DeNitto's jump was the best by a Harvard long jumper in 32 years, and gave Harvard its first individual Heps title in the event since James Johnson in 1982.
HARVARD WOMEN'S TEAM RANKED NO. 14 IN PRESEASON; NO 1 IN NORTHEAST
Fresh off another strong indoor campaign, the Harvard women's track and field team was ranked No. 14 in the USTFCCCA Outdoor Track & Field Preseason Rankings. At No. 14, Harvard has the highest preseason ranking in program history. Last season, Harvard debuted at No. 37 in the USTFCCCA Preseason Rankings, and reached No. 10 on April 25, 2016, the highest ranking in program history.
The Harvard women's team had been previously ranked by the USTFCCCA as No. 22 in the Terry Crawford Program of the Year standings. Harvard finished the indoor season as the No. 1 ranked program in the Northeast region and is currently ranked No. 1 in the Northeast outdoor rankings.
HUGHES, THOMAS, SARETSKY, TOLBERT EARN USTFCCCA NORTHEAST REGION AWARDS
The United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on March 6th at Harvard women's track and field earned all four USTFCCCA NCAA Division I Northeast Region Awards. Jason Saretsky, the William W. "Bill" McCurdy Director of Track and Field/Cross Country, was named Women's Coach of the Year, Kebba Tolbert earned Women's Assistant Coach of the Year, sophomore sprinter Gabby Thomas was named Women's Track Athlete of the Year, and freshman pentathlete Zoe Hughes earned Women's Field Athlete of the Year honors.
SARETSKY NAMED IVY COACH OF THE YEAR, 15 HONORED BY LEAGUE
After claiming a historic fifth straight Ivy League Heptagonal Championship, Jason Saretsky, the William W. 'Bill' McCurdy Director of Track and Field/Cross Country, was named Ivy League Coach of the Year on the women's side. This marks the third straight year that Saretsky has netted coach of the year honors from the Ivy League.
In addition, Harvard track and field had 15 selections to All-Ivy League teams, with several student-athletes earning multiple all-conference honors. All-Ivy selections are based on results from Indoor Heps, with all first-place finishers (including ties and relays) earning first-team All-Ivy, and all second-place finishers (including ties and relays) earning second-team All-Ivy.
Harvard recorded top two finishes in 14 different events.
RECAPPING CROSS COUNTRY
At the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on Oct. 29, sophomore Kieran Tuntivate's 18th place finish (24:16.8) was the top performance for the Harvard men as the team took eighth overall. Tuntivate represented the team at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships on Nov. 11 at Van Cortlandt Park in New York, placing 23rd overall with a 31:16.40 finish on the 10k course. Tuntivate's finish was the highest by a Harvard sophomore at that event since 2008, and he earned USTFCCCA All-Region honors by finishing in the top-25.
It was a historic season for women's cross country, which earned its first team bid to the NCAA National Championships since 2012, placing 26th overall. Junior Courtney Smith earned USTFCCCA All-America recognition (20:21.1) by finishing 35th overall. Harvard qualified for NCAAs by virtue of its second place finish at the NCAA Regional Championships on Nov. 11 at Van Cortlandt Park in New York. The second place showing was the highest finish at that event in program history, as junior Courtney Smith finished second overall in 20:13.90, leading a group of five Harvard runners who each finished in the top 26 of the race. Smith, freshman Judy Pendergast (6th, 20:38.00), sophomore Erin Dietz (17th, 20:57.00) and junior Elianna Shwayder (20th, 21:08.30) each earned USTFCCCA All-Region honors.
History was made at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships on Oct. 29, Courtney Smith won the individual title in 20:19.6 to lead the Crimson to its first Heps title since 1985 and seventh overall in program history. Smith's finish, the first individual title for Harvard since Suzanne Jones in 1989, was part of an outstanding team performance for the Crimson. Harvard's top five finishers placed in the top 12 of the race, as the Crimson totaled 33 points, ahead of Yale (69 points), and Penn (77 points) on the podium.
Use the Social Stream on GoCrimson.com to stay connected with the Crimson on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube this year. The Social Stream brings the conversation from all four platforms into one convenient location, allowing fans of all Harvard Athletics teams to monitor the action in real time.
Follow @HarvardTrack_XC on Twitter for updates during the competition.
AYE AYE, CAPTAIN
Seniors Julian Nunally, Andrew Roney, and Efe Uwaifo were elected captains for the 2016-17 season on the men's side, while the women's squad will be led by seniors Madeleine Ankhelyi and Raegan Nizdil. Roney is in his second year as captain while the remaining selections are in their first season as captains of the Harvard track and field team.
AT THE HELM
Jason Saretsky is in his 11th season as the William W. "Bill" McCurdy Director of Track and Field Cross Country, and during his tenure the Crimson women have tallied three indoor Ivy League Championships. Saretsky's tenure has seen 32 All-America performances, 44 NCAA qualifiers and 108 Heptagonal champions during the indoor season.
Harvard competes at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships at Yale next weekend, beginning on May 6.