Track and Field Hosts Crimson Elite Meet, Heads to Scarlet and White Invitational

Track and Field Hosts Crimson Elite Meet, Heads to Scarlet and White Invitational

Marlena Sabatino and the Harvard track and field team will compete in its final indoor home meet of the season. (Gil Talbot)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.
– Harvard indoor track and field hosts the Crimson Elite meet at Gordon Indoor Track tomorrow afternoon beginning at 2:00 p.m. The event will be streamed on the Ivy League Digital Network.

Harvard will also send student-athletes to compete at the Scarlet and White Invitational at BU on Saturday (Feb. 4). On Friday, Harvard will host several top men's and women's squads from around the country in a meet that will include Boston University, Mississippi State, Virginia, UConn, Northeastern, Syracuse, George Mason, Kennesaw State, Jacksonville (women's team), Rhode Island (men's team), Boston College (women's team), and Princeton (women's team).

Last year at the Crimson Elite meet, Harvard broke several records en route to a first-place finish on the men's side, with 77 points, and a second-place result on the women's, with 79 points. The event was also noteworthy as Nicky Maxwell made NCAA history in the 60 meters as the first organization-cleared runner with a prosthetic to compete at the collegiate level. Maxwell clocked in at a career-best 9.01 seconds.

LAST TIME OUT
Last weekend, Harvard competed at the Columbia East-West Challenge on Jan. 27-28 as well as the H-Y-P Meet hosted by Yale on Sunday (Jan. 29). Sophomore sprinter Gabby Thomas established a new indoor personal record and a Harvard school record in the 200-meter dash, finishing third in 23.01. That time is the fourth-fastest among all NCAA competitors so far this season. On the men's side in the 60-meter hurdles, junior Jay Hebert ran the third fastest time in program history, finishing third in 8.10. On the women's side, junior Marlena Sabatino won the women's pole vault by clearing 3.75m on her first try, while sophomore Miranda Sadler won the 800-meter run in 2:17.68. Freshman Simi Fajemisin set a new personal mark in the triple jump, finishing second in the event with a jump of 12.55 meters, the second best jump in Harvard history.

At the H-Y-P Meet, The women's team earned six event victories on the day, while the men's team earned three event victories.

In sprints, sophomore Ngozi Musa won the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.75, while senior Jade Miller capped off a busy weekend by winning the 200-meter run in 24.98 seconds, her first effort in the event this season. Freshman Karina Joiner won the 60-meter hurdles, her second win in the event this season, with her fastest time (8.64 seconds), the seventh fastest mark in Harvard history.

In field events, the Harvard women's team also had three victories. Senior Raegan Nizdil won the high jump, clearing 1.67 meters. Harvard finished 1-2-3 in the women's long jump, with Simi Fajemisin recording her personal best, winning the event with a jump of 5.82 meters.

Senior Nikki Okwelogu had her best throw of the indoor season, winning the shotput with a 16.84-meter effort, the ninth best throw in the nation this year. On the men's side, Harvard middle distance runners had a banner day. Sophomore Myles Marshall won the 500-meter run in 1:02.10, the second fastest time in school history. Senior Thomas Negron won the 1,000 meter run in 2:27.93, just shy of his personal best. Junior Tyler Spear won the 3,000-meter run for the second time this season, recording his personal best finish in 8:16.88.

THOMAS, FAJEMISIN AND MARSHALL HONORED BY HEPS TRACK
Sophomore Gabby Thomas, freshman Simi Fajemisin, and sophomore Myles Marshall were honored with Heps Track awards this week. Thomas earned Women's Athlete of the Week honors down to 23.01 by defeating Olympian and NCAA Champion Ariana Washington of Oregon. No one in Heps history has been within a half-second of that mark. Fajemisin earned Women's Rookie of the Week honors with an Ivy best triple jump of 12.55 meters at the Columbia East-West Challenge.

Marshall won the 500-meter run at the H-Y-P Meet in 1:02.10, the sixth fastest time in Ivy League history.

HARVARD WOMEN'S TEAM RANKED No. 24
After several top performances against some of the nation's best at the Columbia East-West Challenge and H-Y-P Meet, the Harvard women's team moved up to No. 24 in the latest USTFCCCA Indoor Track and Field rankings, the lone Ivy squad in the top-25.

ABOUT HARVARD TRACK AND FIELD
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.

A YEAR AGO
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).

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.

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

WHAT'S NEXT
Harvard will send student-athletes to compete at the Valentine Invitational (at BU), the Don Kirby Invitational (at New Mexico) and the Husky Classic (at Washington), with each meet taking place on Feb. 10-11.