This past weekend, the Brown men’s and women’s track and field teams competed in the 2023 Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track and Field Championships in Hanover, New Hampshire. In a tough 20-event competition, the women’s team finished sixth of the eight Ivy League schools, while the men’s team bested Yale in the battle for seventh place. Princeton won the team championship on the men’s side, while Harvard captured the top spot on the women’s.
“On the team level, we were able to get more people on the medal stand and scoring points in several events,” Associate Head Coach Ken Hunt wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “Every athlete wants to feel the fruits of their labor. We are improving, especially when you take into account how young our team is.”
Bruno displayed an impressive performance in the women’s pentathlon. Chiamaka Odenigbo ’24 won the event and Adrienne Usher ’26 earned a bronze medal.
On Saturday, Odenigbo started the competition off strong with a third-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles, the first of the five events that compose the pentathlon. In a clean race, Odenigbo glided over the five hurdles that separated her from the finish line in 8.99 seconds. Next, with an impressive 1.69-meter jump, she outleapt her competition, finishing in first place.
“Not every event was perfect, but I did what I set out to do and that was score as many points as I could,” wrote Odenigbo in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “We came in hoping to do better overall in terms of the overall team score, but we also came in with the goal of competing hard, with heart and with confidence. So while not every performance was as hoped, every effort given was as hoped.”
The third event of the pentathlon was the shot put. Once again, Odenigbo proved to be one of the top three competitors, propelling the shot 11.41 meters. The shot — which is typically made of solid iron or brass — sparkled in bronze for Odenigbo, as she took home third place in the event.
In the long jump, she dominated with a 5.52-meter second-place performance. The last event of the pentathlon was the 800-meter race. After having already competed in four events, Odenigbo crossed the finish line in ninth place with a time of 2 minutes, 38.40 seconds. All in all, her efforts secured her the top podium position.
“This past weekend, the team spirit was palpable. We see each other working hard in practice and we understand each other’s goals, so we are always looking forward to seeing each other do well,” she wrote. “That means still cheering on your teammates after being disappointed with your own performance, yelling your heart out for your teammate on their final lap, holding your breath as your teammate starts their throw, approaches the high jump bar or accelerates towards the sand pit (and) celebrating every podium finish.”
On the men’s side, the Bears returned each of last year’s top two indoor Ivy League high jumpers. On Sunday, John McNeil ’24 secured his place as the indoor Ivy League high jump champion for the second consecutive year. McNeil won the event in impressive fashion as the only contestant to surpass the 2.10-meter bar. His teammate Sidarth Raman ’23 mirrored McNeil’s repeat by finishing in second place once again with a jump of 2.07 meters.
“Indoor Heps is the most energetic meet I’ve ever been to,” McNeil wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “Everyone is cheering for their teammates … it’s just a great environment. The fans also played a big role. Having alumni and parents come to … support their team means a lot to all of us.”
McNeil was able to build momentum early in the meet, competing Saturday in the men’s long jump ahead of Sunday’s high jump. In an impressive display, he jumped 7.39 meters — tying his personal best set during the West Point Open in January — to secure third place.
“I think I put in a good effort to help my team,” McNeil wrote. Despite his impressive performance, McNeil still felt that he had room for improvement. “On an individual level, I could’ve done more in the long jump and I think I missed out on a couple of more points.”
McNeil was not the only Brunonian to medal in the jumps, as the women’s team landing on the podium in all three of their jumping events. Lauren Yeboah-Kodie ’24 finished second in the triple jump – leaping a new personal best of 12.93 meters — as well as in the long jump. At 5.93 meters, Kodie’s long jump was only two centimeters shy of first place. Yeboah-Kodie also competed in the 60-meter hurdles, setting a new personal best of 8.55 seconds, a finish that awarded her fourth place.
In the high jump, Nene Mokonchu ’26 eclipsed all her previous performances. Lifting off the ground to surpass the 1.73-meter high bar — a personal best — Mokonchu was able to land a place on the podium, taking home a bronze medal for Brown.
Jack Kelley ’24 also achieved a new personal best in the men’s 400-meter race. Lining up in the sixth lane, he shot out of the starting blocks and sped across the finish line after 48.37 seconds to earn third place.
The team will next compete this weekend in Boston for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships. With only one more meet before they put the indoor season behind them, the track and field team is now looking toward the beginning of the outdoor season.
“Outdoors is different (from) indoors,” Hunt explained. “We add more events like the hammer, javelin (and) steeplechase,” which “have tended to lend more in our favor.”
The team is set to kick off the outdoor season on March 23 in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I know the team is capable of great things in (the) outdoor (season),” McNeil wrote. “I’m looking to place better as a team that season.”