Harmon leads men to UAA title; Women third

| Sports Reporter

Junior Ben Harmon racked up 36 his team’s 125 points to help the Washington University men’s indoor track & field team capture its 10th University Athletic Association Indoor Championship on March 5-6. The title was the team’s first since 2007.

Harmon, competing on a tender ankle, set the pace for the Bears by earning points in all six events he raced. Harmon won in the long jump with a leap of 6.94 meters and the pole vault by clearing a height of 4.55 meters. In the high jump, Harmon initially tied Case Western Reserve University’s Obinna Nwanna by clearing 1.96 meters, but finished as runner-up as the result of the tiebreaker. He also took second as a team member in the 4×400 relay alongside senior Chris Malaya, sophomore Dan Davis and graduate student Pierre Hoppenot. Harmon capped off his meet with a fourth-place finish in the triple jump and a fifth-place finish in the 55-meter hurdles.

“We were going in, and everyone was just kind of doing their own thing. . .we knew we could win, and it just panned out nicely for us as a team,” Harmon said. “Everybody just stepped up, and it fell into place with the sprinters, jumpers and athletes, and I just happened to be involved in more than one of those.”

Davis won the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 7.61 seconds, just 0.01 seconds shy of the 15-year-old meet record set by Brandeis’ Mikhael Edel. By winning the event, Davis finished the season undefeated in the 55-meter hurdles, except for a disqualification at the Cardinal Classic two weeks ago.

Head coach Jeff Stiles was certain to reiterate Harmon’s point that although there was one major contribution, the Bears won because they took points at every men’s event except the mile, which he emphasized was “pretty tough to do.”

In other notable finishes, freshman Kevin Lind earned two points in the pole vault, and Hoppenot won the 200-meter dash (22.51 seconds) and grabbed second in the 55-meter dash. Junior Dave Spandorfer finished second in the 3,000-meter run, freshman Tom Arnold took second in the shot put, and junior Scott Pettit was runner-up to Harmon in the pole vault. Sophomore Michael Burnstein also took third in the 5,000-meter run.

Harmon and Davis will both compete in the 2010 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships at DePauw University on March 12-13. Harmon qualified as the sixth seed in the pentathlon, and Davis qualified as the fourth seed in the 55-meter hurdles.

Women’s team

After only trailing the University of Chicago by 37 points through the first day of the UAA championships, the Lady Bears finished with a total of 76 points for third place behind the Maroons and Emory University.

Junior Jessica Londeree took home third in the 3,000-meter run, and classmate Sangeeta Hardy won the 800-meter run (2:15.21), followed closely by sophomore Erica Jackey. Additionally, sophomore Katie Hered cleared a height of 3.40 meters to win the pole vault.

Sophomore Liz Phillips continued her dominance in the mile run, and her time of 4:55.32 crushed the meet record set by Case Western Reserve’s Esther Erb’s in 2007 by more than 6 seconds. With the win, Phillips also broke her own school record in the mile, but she unfortunately missed the automatic qualifying mark for nationals by less than a third of a second.

“The mile tends to be an event where people go out slowly and kick it at the end to win, but I really wanted to run a fast time, so I took it out hard,” Phillips said.

The Bears won the distance medley for the second straight meet, with senior Allison Lee replacing Erica Jackey for the 400-meter leg. Stiles said the substitution was made to try to get more athletes to compete in more events and hopefully earn more points. Despite a time 20 seconds behind that of the team that qualified for nationals last week, this team still set a new meet record that had stood since 2002.

Hardy, Jackey, Phillips and senior Molly Schlamb are also headed to the indoor championships after qualifying for the distance medley at the North Central College Meet on Feb. 20.

The outdoor track season begins for both teams on March 20 with the Rhodes Open meet in Memphis, Tenn.