BACK-TO-BACK! Women’s Track and Field Runs Away with Second Consecutive Outdoor Heptagonal Championship

BACK-TO-BACK! Women’s Track and Field Runs Away with Second Consecutive Outdoor Heptagonal Championship

Harvard's women won consecutive titles for the first time ever in program history (Greg Carroccio/The Ivy League).

PHILADELPHIA – On a hot day in Philadelphia at Penn's Franklin Field, the heat and seven opposing Ivy League schools proved to be no match for the Harvard women's track and field team, as it tallied 157 points to defeat runner-up Princeton by 39. The Crimson's dominant performance was highlighted with three conference records being broke, along with seven new all-time school records being set.

"I couldn't be happier with the way our student-athletes competed on both the men's and women's side," said Jason Saretsky, the William W. "Bill" McCurdy Director of Track and Field/Cross Country. "It is amazing to think our women's junior and senior classes have won a total of five Heptagonal Championships so far. We had so many outstanding performances and I'm incredibly proud of all our student-athletes who competed."

Sunday's championship is the second-straight for the Crimson, the first time in program history it has won two outdoor titles in consecutive years. Harvard won its first women's outdoor Heps title in 1990.

On the men's side, Harvard placed sixth with a team score of 56.50. Princeton edged Cornell for the title with 163 points.

In total, the Crimson women captured six individual crowns. Sophomore Nikki Okwelogu collected two of those with record-setting showings in the shot put and discus. Okwelogu became the first Ivy League woman to go over 56 feet in the shot put, reaching 56-10 (17.32 meters) to set a new conference standard in victory. In the discus, her long toss of 176-5 (53.78 meters) ranks as the furthest in Harvard history, second-longest in Ancient Eight history and was good for the title Sunday.

For her historic efforts, Okwelogu was named the Field Athlete of the Meet, sweeping that honor at both indoor and outdoor Heps this year.

The owner of the new Ivy League 100 meter dash record is senior Danielle Barbian. The Sussex, Wisconsin, native blazed her way to a time of 11.59, re-writing the meet and conference record books en route to the victory. Classmate Ashley Collinsworth claimed third overall with a time of 11.79 to add 16 points to Harvard's score in one event.

Harvard's fourth conference record broken Sunday came in the women's heptathlon. Junior Madison Hansen competed diligently over the two-day meet and came away with a victorious total of 5,506, beating the old Ivy League record by two points. Fellow junior Allison Morrison finished fourth with a score of 4,946.

In addition to the four overall conference records broke by Harvard student-athletes, another Crimson set a new meet record. In the 400 meter hurdles, Jade Miller's winning time of 57.30 was 0.94 seconds faster than the previous top Heps mark set in 2010. Two more Crimson placed in the 400 hurdles, with Autumne Franklin finishing second with a time of 58.31 and Jackie Modesett posted a new personal best of 59.41 to take fourth overall.

Miller also helped anchor Harvard's runner-up showing in the 4x400 meter relay race. Franklin, Gabrielle Scott and Christi Scott raced the first three legs of the events, as the Crimson clocked in at 3:35.38, which was faster than the previous meet record and is the top time in school history.

Franklin's exceptional day was highlighted with her triumph in the 100 meter hurdles. The junior's time of 13.70 was .02 off her personal best. Modesett notched another quality finish in the 100 meter hurdles, securing third with a time of 13.89.

In the opening event of track competition Sunday, junior Paige Kouba broke her own school record in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and finished third with a time of 10:15.81.

Jarvis Harris put together two great races in the men's hurdles events, including the lone win for Crimson men at 400 meters. Winning the event with his 51.10 mark, Harris set a new personal record and moved into third on the all-time performance list in school history. Harris was also the top Harvard finisher in the 110 meter hurdles, posting a time of 14.36 to take third. Jay Hebert also finished in the scoring, taking sixth with a time of 14.55.

Mark Hill's two days of competition in the decathlon culminated in a new personal-best score of 6,473, the third-highest score in Harvard history.

The 4x800 meter relays for both the men's and women's teams earned spots in the Crimson record books and finished fourth. Paige Kouba, Sarah Gillespie, Kieran Gallagher and Molly Renfer put together a time of 8:43.74, the second-best time in school lore and just .44 off the record. Gabe Montague, Billy Looney, Connor Reck and Jonas Aranda also combined for the second-fastest time in men's history, registering a time of 7:26.62, only .03 shy of the school record.

The 200 meter distance saw three Harvard sprinters set new PRs. In the women's race, Barbian matched the school record of 24.14 with her third-place finish and Collinsworth ran the third-best time in program history, 24.21, to finish fourth. Matt Hurst raced his way to fourth in the men's 200 meter event, setting a new personal record with a time of 21.60.

Collinsworth, Miller, Franklin and Barbian combined for another standout relay performance in the 4x100 meter race. With a time of 45.48, the quartet has the second-best time in Harvard history and finished second in the event. The men's 4x100 team of Efe Uwaifo, Malcolm Johnson, Hurst and Harris sprinted its way to the fifth-fastest time in school history and finished fifth overall with a time of 41.26.

In the field, Uwaifo earned runner-up honors in the triple jump with a leap of 50-2.5 (15.30 meters). Spencer Lemons tied for sixth in the high jump, tying his personal best of 6-8.25 (2.04 meters) and Julian Nunally set a new PR in the discus with a throw of 161-4 (49.19 meters). The women's high jump saw Raegan Nizdil clear 5-7 (1.72 meters) to take third.

Renfer finished in the points for Harvard in the women's 1,500 meters, taking fifth with her time of 4:25.09.

At the 5,000 meter distance, Thomas Purnell paced his way to a fourth-place finish in 14:38.40. Johnson posted his top collegiate time in the 100 meter dash, taking sixth in 10.83. Hurst and Aranda also finished sixth in the 400 and 800 meter races, respectively. Hurst crossed the finish line in 48.37 and Aranda came in at 1:51.40.

To see the recap from Saturday's action, click HERE.

The championship season continues for the Crimson next weekend at the IC4A/ECAC Championships at Princeton May 15-17.