Women's Track and Field Wins Beantown Challenge; Hughes Takes Multi-Meet

Harvard women's track and field won the Beantown Challenge for the sixth consecutive year. (Gil Talbot)

The Harvard men's and women's track and field teams kicked off their home indoor slate by hosting the Harvard Multi-Meet and Beantown Challenge this weekend (Jan. 13-14) at Gordon Track. The Harvard women's team won the Beantown Challenge with 138 points, its sixth straight victory in the event, while the men's team placed fifth overall with 80 points. Harvard freshman Zoe Hughes won the women's pentathlon at the Harvard Multi-Meet with 3702 points, while on the men's side, freshman Anthony DeNitto took fourth place with 4547 points.

‎"I was really pleased with the way our men's and women's teams competed today," said The William W. "Bill" McCurdy Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Jason Saretsky. "It was a great atmosphere, as always, at the Gordon Indoor Track, and I'm looking forward to seeing us improve throughout the course of the season."

The men's and women's teams combined for nine event wins on the day, with four of those wins coming in field events. Harvard swept both the shot put and pole vault. In the women's shotput, senior Nikki Okwelogu had a dominant performance with a throw of 51-6.5 (15.71m), the 16th best throw in the nation. On the men's side, senior Julian Nunally neared his career best throw, winning the shotput with a throw of 57-7 (17.55m), which ranks 21st in the country so far this season.

Okwelogu also took second place in the weight throw at 53-11.75 (16.45m), while the Harvard men were led by Josh Whitener in the event, who took third place with a throw of 57-2.25 (17.43m)

The Harvard women also had a strong day in the jumps, with senior Haley Baker finishing second in the long jump by reaching 17-7 (5.36m). Freshman Simi Fajemisin and junior Floriane Kameni finished 2nd and 3rd in the women's triple jump, with Fajemisin recording a mark of 38-9.75 (11.83m) and Kameni reaching 37-10.75 (11.55m).

In the pole vault on the women's side, junior Marlena Sabatino cleared a height of 12-5.5 (3.80m) to win the event, while for the men, sophomore Ian West set a new personal record by clearing 16-2.75 (4.95m).

In track events, the Harvard women's team had a banner day, highlighted by sophomore Gabby Thomas, who neared her own school record (7.38) by taking the 60-meter dash final with a time of 7.42. Thomas recorded the second fastest time in school history (.57 seconds shy of her own school record), by winning the 300-meter dash with a time of 38.6. Assistant coach Autumne Franklin finished second in 38.87.

In the women's 60-meter hurdles, Harvard advanced four runners to the final, with freshman Karina Joiner (8.73) and senior Jade Miller (8.76) finishing second and third in the event. Freshman Livia Gauntlett finished fifth in 8.80 seconds. On the men's side, junior Jay Hebert ran his career best, winning the 60-meter hurdles in 8.09 seconds, while teammate Mitch Valko took fourth in 8.31, also a career best.

In distance events, on the women's side for Harvard, freshman Gillian Meeks finished second in the mile run with a time of 5:03.63. In the 1,000-meter run, freshman Eliza Rego finished fifth overall in 2:58.22, with current Harvard assistant coach Paige Kouba finishing second in the event in 2:49.87. Kouba won the 3,000-meter run in 9:56.61.

On the men's side, junior Tyler Spear had an excellent showing in the 3,000-meter run, winning the event in 8:29.63 to lead a group of three Harvard runners that earned points in the event. In the men's mile, freshman Kaeo Kruse took sixth place in 4:22.91 to earn points for the Crimson.

In relays, the Harvard women took first place in the 4x440-yard event, with Sylvia Deppen, Zoe Hughes, Karina Joiner, and Micah Meekins finishing in 3:53.58. The Harvard men's 4x440 relay team took fifth place, as Jacob McLennan, Randall Raymond, Will Rienas, and Tom Rienas finished in 3:23.74.

To watch the complete Beantown Challenge, visit the Ivy League Digital Network: LINK

Harvard will compete next weekend at the Joe Donohue Invite in Boston as well as the Rod McCravy Memorial hosted by the University of Kentucky.