HepsXC14: Harvard Men

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The Harvard Men’s cross country team had an impressive season in 2013. Senior frontrunner Maksim Korolev placed second at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, won the HepsXC and NCAA Northeast Region individual titles, and placed an unprecedented third at the NCAA National Championship Meet. Fellow seniors James Leakos and Kurt Ruegg also helped carry the team to new levels as they placed fourth as a team at HepsXC and managed a 30th place team finish at the NCAA National Championship Meet.

In his own words, Coach Jason Saretsky said, “Last year we had some outstanding individual success and it was a breakthrough for our men to qualify for nationals for the first time since 1979. The potential is there for us to perform even better as a team this year.  Our coaching staff has gone through a couple of changes and the training has remained relatively consistent although we are always tweaking and progressing what we do.”

That said, having Korolev, Leakos, and Ruegg graduate left Harvard with a few spots to fill this season. Harvard’s recruiting class for this year doesn’t fail to deliver. Joining the Crimson men’s squad are a group of seven talented freshman who have all posted impressive times, as well as new assistance distance coach, Patrick Wales-Dinan.

Saretsky also revealed that the Crimson men’s squad has been preparing for the championship season since summertime. He says, “Everything we do training wise and preparing for the season is about the championship part of our schedule so we are all excited heading into Heps this weekend.” Given the league’s status, Harvard’s men make very well make a run for the HepsXC title.

This season, the Crimson men were led by senior captain Will Geiken and junior Thomas Purnell. The duo helped the team to some decent performances this season, highlighted by a sixth place finish at the “Battle of Beantown” invitational at Franklin Park. Running alongside Geiken and Purnell were junior Chris Allen and freshman Louis Colson and Ben Huffman. Harvard surpassed Columbia and Cornell as the second Ivy League finisher behind Dartmouth that day.

Coach Saretsky opted not to race the Crimson’s top men against the deep field at the Paul Short invitational this season. Some less experienced, but comparably capable runners got a chance to compete instead. Highlighting this opportunity was senior Nephat Matitim who stepped up with a 32nd place, 24:31 finish. Fellow seniors Ryan Meehan and Carl Ward, junior Johnny Marvin, and sophomore Evan Grandfield also had respectable finishes for the Crimson at Paul Short this season. Overall, the Harvard men placed 32nd out of 42 teams.

At Wisconsin, the Crimson’s top runners were back in action as Purnell led the team to a 26th place finish in a field of 37 teams. Purnell ran 24:33 for 85th place. He was followed by Geiken, who ran 24:43 for 109th place. Rounding out the Crimson squad were seniors Maritim and Dan Milechman, along with Huffman. As noted in the Columbia Men’s team preview, Wisconsin was a close invitational for the Ivy League teams present. Harvard placed a spot ahead of Columbia but would tie with them if the meet were scored only between the four Ivy League teams present. It should be noted, however, that Columbia was missing a runner who couldn’t finish due to injury.

My guess for the HepsXC lineup is below:

  1. Thomas Purnell

  2. Will Geiken

  3. Nephat Maritim

  4. Ben Huffman

  5. Chris Allen

  6. Brandon Price

  7. Dan Milechman

And some combination of the following 10 runners for spots 8-12: Colson, Grandfield, Jack Stevenson, Fred Ward, Johnny Marvin, Tyler Spear, Gabe Montague, Lukas Gemar, Ryan Meehan, or Konrad Surkont.

Coach Saretsky himself says that, “This is going to be one of the most exciting Heps in recent memory as it is more wide open than I can remember in the close to 20 years I have been associated with the League.”

Be sure to stay tuned for this Saturday’s HepsXC action!

photo by Harvard Athletics

– Sami Aziz

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