Nikki Okwelogu, Gabby Thomas Shine for Track in TCU Invitational
The Harvard track and field team kicked off its outdoor season this past weekend with a bevy of strong individual performances at the TCU Invitational.
Building on a strong indoor season, in which the squad took home first place at the Ivy Championships for the second consecutive year, the women’s team notched strong performances in the 100-meter dash, 400-meter hurdles, and team relays.
Freshman Gabby Thomas nabbed first place in the 100-meter dash with a wind-assisted personal best of 11.39 seconds, ahead of fellow freshman Ngozi Musa, who scored sixth place in the same race with her own personal best of 11.66 seconds. Both come off an indoor season during which Thomas and Musa went back and forth in the 60-meter dash.
Thomas also set a new Harvard record on her way to a sixth-place finish in the 200-meter dash. Her 100-meter time during this weekend’s meet would also have set a new Ivy record.
Harvard also swept the top two spots in the 400-meter hurdles, where senior Autumne Franklin claimed first in 57.79 seconds—less than three-tenths of a second faster than junior Jade Miller, who won the silver medal. Miller’s second-place run was a full 1.26 seconds faster than the third place time.
Elsewhere, Harvard swept both relays by comfortable margins, winning the 4x100-meter relay by five-tenths of a second and the 4x400-meter relay by more than three seconds. The Crimson’s 44.85 second mark in the 4x100 was a new school and Ivy record.
In the throws, junior Nikki Okwelogu—recently named a First-Team All-American for the second consecutive year based off her performance at the NCAA Indoor Championships—claimed first in the discus and second in the shot put. Okwelogu’s throw of 54.06 meters in the former event was good for a new Harvard record.
The men’s side was highlighted by a host of top four finishes, including two second-place finishes from junior Brandon Price in the 1500-meter and from junior Brett Henderson in the javelin throw. Price’s time of 3:50.32 was good for a personal best.
“It was a great first meet for us,” sophomore hurdler Jay Hebert said. “We didn’t have a ton of people there, but the ones who were there did very well, and for a first meet it’s a sign of good things to come.”
Junior Julian Nunally set his own personal best in the outdoor shot put on his way to fourth place, with a mark of 16.92 meters. The Crimson scored two more fourth place finishes from Hebert in the 110 meter hurdles and senior Spencer Lemons in the high jump, and a third place finish from freshman Myles Marshall in the 400-meter dash.
The Crimson squad now has roughly a month and a half before Ivy Championships in May, where the men hope to improve on last year’s sixth-place finish, and the women hope to defend last year’s crown.
“Going into Heps, we always want to do better than we did last year, which means scoring points and getting people to set their personal bests,” Hebert said. “If we take care of things on an individual level first and get everyone on the same page, I think you’ll see the team prosper as a result.”
—Staff writer Phillip Yu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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