Hall of Fame

Charles J. Ajootian
Track & Field

Graduation Year


Induction Year


Hall of Fame

Harvard Athletic Achievements

One of a trio of Harvard’s dominant field performers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the All-American became the first Harvard athlete to capture an individual NCAA indoor title in 1969, when he won the 35-pound weight throw. Charlie also won the 35-pound weight throw at the 1969 Boston K of C Games and the hammer throw at the 1969 Penn Relays. Harvard won the indoor Heps in 1969 thanks to the reliable strongman.

Hall of Fame

Remembering Harvard Athletics

“Reminiscing” McCurdy and Stowell! In the late ‘60s, they were the heart and soul of the Harvard track team. We were very fortunate to have two such remarkable men as coaches. Ed Stowell, was probably the most unfailingly enthusiastic and optimistic coach (or man) that I’ve ever known, as well as a dedicated and knowledgeable weight events coach, and for this I sincerely thank him. As weight throwers, we had less day-to-day contact with Bill McCurdy, but we unquestionably felt and strove to meet his values: to win at all ethical cost, to train harder and to compete harder and smarter than the other guy.

And compete we did, winning Heptagonal championships and virtually all of our dual meets in 1969 with talented runners, jumpers, and throwers. I am still in awe of what the Harvard runners and jumpers accomplished in the late ‘60s, but it was of course the throwers whom I remember most vividly, the men I trained with, competed with and against, traveled with, laughed and cried (at least, figuratively) with. Dick Benka, our team captain in 1969, whom I almost beat in the shot-put freshman year, went on to set a Harvard shot-put record three years later which still stands and may endure for decades yet to come [broken in 2014]. Dick was an inspirational leader and a dedicated team member as well, several times spending long days on the discus in order to beat a key opponent. As I recall, Dick uncorked his best discus throw in the Yale meet in 1969, beating one of Yale’s best track athletes (who had been the favorite to win the event) and thereby providing our margin of victory.

For one year (1969), co-inductees Ed Nosal and I were on the varsity track team together, which led to more than just a few fierce competitions. I think Ed came to Harvard (and was probably born with) the most powerful legs that I have ever seen, and his many successes prove the old axiom that the weight events are won with the legs.

And we had javelin throwers, too: Richie Szaro, Frank Champi, and Henry Blair Bernson. Henry and I roomed together for 4 years at Harvard, so I particularly enjoy remembering his winning the javelin throw at the Oxford/Cambridge meet in London in 1967 and his setting the Harvard javelin record (short-lived though it was) later in his career.

With Ron Wilson ’68, Carter Lord ’68, who is remembered for football and baseball but was such an incredible athlete that he could compete in the shot-put on the varsity level without training more than a few days a year, Bruce Hedendal ’69, and Dave Bernstein ’69, we fielded a formidable and deep weight events “team.” I’d be curious to know whether any Harvard (or Yale or Princeton, for that matter) weight team ever accomplished what we did in the Harvard-Yale-Princeton triangular meet in 1968, taking all four scoring places in both the shot and the weight.

It was all just a “game,” but I am proud to have competed alongside such a memorable group of athletes and men.