Skipper with a Stopwatch

Jason Saretsky, Harvards new head coach of cross country and track and field (he succeeds Frank Haggerty 68, who retired in June), competed as a middle-distance runner, specializing in the 800-meter run, which many identify as the most painful event in track. Its the event where the sprinter meets the distance runner, and the sustained intensity of effort induces a ferocious lactic-acid burn late in the race. But Saretsky knows both the trials and the joys of athletics; he laments the fact that the only time you hear about track and field is when there is a drug accusation, and thats a shame. There is a purity to our sport, a beauty to our sport, that is special.

Jason Saretsky
Photograph by David Silverman / Harvard Sports Information

Saretsky began running in seventh grade, and at Columbia (he graduated in 1999), he ran on a 4 x 800 relay team that won the Heptagonal championship. He earned a masters degree in exercise physiology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and worked as a graduate assistant coach of the Lions track squad. In 2001 he moved to Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, where, as an assistant coach and later, associate head coach, he helped guide Iona teams to top-10 finishes at the NCAA cross-country championships four years runningno mean feat for an institution with only 3,000 students. Twice, Iona finished fourth in the NCAAs, allowing those teams to bring home the first NCAA trophies in the colleges athletic history.

Saretsky jumped at the opportunity to return to his roots in the Ivy League. Ive felt for a long time that Harvard is a sleeping giant, he notes. Theres incredible potential here: you have all the resources and facilities one could ask for. And theres a great tradition: I think Harvard has produced more individual national champions in track and field than all the other Ivy colleges combined.

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