There has been a lot research lately into whether or not athletes are becoming better, faster, and stronger. However, the Harvard track team doesn’t need the research. It has Gabby Thomas.
This weekend at the Big Apple Challenge in New York City, the sophomore sprinter did what she has already done so many times—she broke a record. In her 200-meter run, Thomas both set a new indoor track personal record and a Harvard school record in the race. Claiming the third place position with a time of 23.01, the sprint represented the fourth-fastest time for the NCAA this season.
“The competition at this weekend's meet was different because it was a little bit of everything,” Thomas said. “We had the top runners in the country with a mix of teams that I'm used to running in my league, so it was very fun. It was nice to see the Ivy League together competing at a high level, and more importantly, it was such a great opportunity for me to challenge myself and get some practice running against girls of such a high level before I see them again much later in the season.”
The success is nothing new for Thomas. The sophomore phenom started off her career at Harvard with 10 individual victories in the eight-meet outdoor season. She won three times in the 60-meter dash, five times in the 200-meter dash, and twice in the long jump. Thomas also scratched her name into the record books with school and Ivy records in both the 60 and 200-meter dashes. As a result of her success, Thomas was named an All-American for the outdoor season and a First Team All-Ivy in the 60-meter dash.
“This season is different from last year because I'm no longer a rookie and it's weird,” Thomas said. “I'm a sophomore on the team now and a little more adjusted to school and sports. I don't go to meets to see what I can do anymore; I go to meets to get something done. At the Columbia East-West Challenge, I knew that I could set a 200 PR, and that's what I went to do. In a way, this season is a little scarier because of the expectations I have of myself, but now that I know what I am capable of doing, there is so much room for my growth as an athlete.”
The success in her freshman season has clearly spilled over into the current year. With her record-breaking performance last weekend, it seems that the only thing changing for Thomas is that she is getting better. The Florence, Mass. native not only clocked a record-breaking 200, she placed fifth in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.42 seconds.
The Big Apple Challenge represents an important meet as it not only pitted Thomas against Ivy League rivals Penn, Columbia, and Cornell, but No. 1 Oregon as well.
“I think that competing against great teams from the West Coast give us a taste of what our conference championship will be like,” junior hurdler Jay Herbert said. “Teams like Oregon have some of the best athletes in the country, and racing them is good practice when it comes to mentally preparing ourselves for high levels of competition.”
Thomas has consistently thrived when going toe-to-toe with some of the nation’s top teams. In the first meet of the season, Thomas set a school record in the 300-dash with a time of 38.03 seconds and a second place finish overall. She then proceeded to take gold in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.55 seconds.
Thomas showed no rust coming back from winter break, taking gold in both the 60-meter and 300-meter dashes at the Beantown Challenge two weekends ago. In both races, Thomas was breathing down the neck of her own records. In the 60-meter, she recorded a time of 7.42 seconds, only .04 seconds off while In the 300, she was .57 seconds shy with a time of 38.6 seconds.
Last weekend at the Rod McCravy Memorial Meet hosted by the University of Kentucky, Thomas recorded the second-fastest Harvard indoor time in the 200-meter dash, good enough for third place at yet another stacked meet. In addition, the 4x400-meter relay team—on which she runs with senior Jade Miller, freshman Karina Joiner, and freshman Zoe Hughes—finished ninth and clocked the fourth-fastest time in school history.
Every race Gabby Thomas runs has the potential to be something special. With her latest record in the 200, Thomas seems to be in prime position to bring home some hardware from the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships in four weeks.
“My biggest challenge will be complacency,” Thomas said. “I don't want to get caught up in the success that I've had in the past, because I know that I still have a long way to go and more goals to accomplish. Last year, it was easy to get better because I was starting from the lowest point in my career. Now, it will be twice as hard to get even just the tiniest bit better.”
—Staff writer Cade Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women's Track and Field Wins Fourth Straight Ivy Championship, Men Come in FifthThis weekend, the Harvard women brought home its fourth straight Ivy Championship—capping off an undefeated indoor Ivy career for the team’s seniors. Meanwhile, the men tied their result from last year by rallying near the close of the meet to a fifth-place finish.
Athlete of the Week: Thomas Qualifies for 2016 Olympic Trials in 200-Meter DashThis past weekend at the Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, N.C., Thomas set three new Ivy records, the most notable being a then-NCAA best time of 23.18 seconds in the 200-meter dash—good enough to automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials.
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