Track and Field Back In Action at Rod McCravy Memorial and Joe Donahue Games

Track and Field Back In Action at Rod McCravy Memorial and Joe Donahue Games
Harvard track and field is back in action this weekend at the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet and the Joe Donahue Games. (Gil Talbot)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard indoor track and field will split this weekend at two events, the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet hosted by the University of Kentucky on Jan. 20-21, and the Joe Donahue Games hosted by Northeastern on Jan. 20.

For the second consecutive year, Harvard will compete at the Rod McCravy Memorial, one of the top collegiate meets of the indoor season. Featuring several of the top men's and women's track and field teams in the nation, with seven ranked women's teams and three ranked men's squads in the latest USTFCCCA rankings, Harvard will be the only non-Power 5 team competing at the event. Last season, the Crimson had several outstanding performances at the Rod McCravy meet, with Gabby Thomas winning the 200-meter dash in 23.44 seconds, and Courtney Smith winning the 3,000-meter run in 9:21:35. On the men's side, Myles Marshall set a Harvard record (1:49.35) in the 800-meter run at the event.

Harvard will also compete at the Joe Donahue Games at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center on Friday, sending select team members to the meet.

Last weekend at Gordon Indoor 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.

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. 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.

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

Gabby Thomas was named Women's Athlete of the Week after earning a pair of victories in the 60-meter dash and 300-meter run last weekend at the Beantown Challenge. Thomas' 60-meter time (7.42) was the third-fastest in Ivy League history.

Harvard is led by outdoor All-American and First Team All-Ivy sophomore Gabby Thomas in the 60 meter, and outdoor All-American senior Jade Miller in the 60 meter hurdles and 400m. On the men's side, All-Ivy selections Jonas Aranda (4x800m), Myles Marshall (4x800m), and Gabe Montague (4x800m) are back in action, while team co-captain Andrew Roney will compete in the pole vault, an event he finished fourth in at the Ivy League Outdoor Championships. The men's team was ranked 9th in the USTFCCCA Northeast Regional Rankings, the third highest among Ivy institutions.

Harvard's women's team finished the indoor season as the top-ranked program in the Northeast region, while the men's team wound up ninth. The Crimson landed a pair of student-athletes with first team All-America honors during the indoor campaign: sophomore Courtney Smith and junior Nikki Okwelogu, who both had standout preformances at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Okwelogu and Smith took third and eighth in the shot put and 5,000 meters, respectively, to earn first team All-America honors. The duo joined an elite group of All-Americans, with Okwelogu writing her name on the list for the second time.

Okwelogu earned the bronze with a career-best throw of 57-11.25 (17.66 meters), crushing her own Harvard and Ivy League records in the process by 17.25 inches. Smith ran to an eighth-place result in the 5,000 meters to garner a first team All-America nod with a time of 16:04.86. The sophomore persevered late in the race, moving up three spots over the final 2,000 meters.

Last year, several Crimson standouts kicked off their collegiate careers with unprecedented performances. Gabby Thomas tallied 10 individual victories through eight meets in the indoor season, three times in the 60 meters, five times in the 200 meters and twice in the long jump to lead the freshman class. She owns the school and Ivy records in the 60 and 200 meters. Fellow sprinter Ngozi Musa also placed in the school's top-10 list in the 60 meters (second, 7.40 seconds).

On the men's side, Myles Marshall broke indoor school records in the 800 meters at the Rod McCravy Memorial, running 1:49.35, and the 500 meters at the IC4A Championships with a time of 1:01.63. Classmate Ian West claimed top honors in the pole vault (15-9, 4.80 meters) at the Beantown Challenge, while Kieran Tuntivate owned the Crimson's best indoor mark last season in the 1,000 meters (2:28.14).

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 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.

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.

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 29 All-America performances, 40 NCAA qualifiers and 99 Heptagonal champions during the indoor season.

Harvard will compete next weekend at The Big Apple Challenge hosted by Columbia at The Armory on Jan. 27-28 and The Terrier Classic at Boston University on the same dates.