Track and Field Sends Program-Record Seven Athletes to NCAA Championships

Photo courtesy of Tim O'Dowd
Photo courtesy of Tim O'Dowd

Harvard breaks program record with seven athletes headed to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Harvard track and field wrapped up the NCAA East Preliminaries at Hodge Stadium Saturday, sending a program-record seven athletes to the NCAA Championships June 11. The seven athletes bests the most for the Crimson, breaking the number sent in 1961 (six).

It should be noted that in 1961, Harvard track and field only included men and freshmen were not eligible to compete in varsity as per NCAA rules. 

Heading to Oregon will be sophomore Autumne Franklin (400m hurdles), senior James Leakos (10K), junior Hannah Mayer (javelin), freshman Jade Miller (400m hurdles), sophomore Tom Purnell (5K), freshman Efe Uwaifo (triple jump) and junior Erika Veidis (800m).

"I'm incredibly proud of the seven student-athletes we have going to Eugene. They've worked extremely hard and I'm excited to see them compete in the final round of the National Championships," said Jason Saretsky, ‎the William W. "Bill" McCurdy Director of Track and Field. It was a strong double for the senior who had qualified for Eugene in the 10k on Thursday.  

Purnell was the last Crimson to punch his ticket to Oregon, finishing 11th overall in the 5,000m run with a time of 14:14.95. Purnell finished seventh in his heat.  Leakos ranked 10th in the heat, 15th overall, with a time of 14:16.24.

Uwaifo hopped a distance of 15.57m (51-1) with a wind of +1.3 to become the first Harvard triple jumper to reach the NCAA Championships since Olympian and All-American Samyr Laine, whose highest finish at Nationals while competing for Harvard was 7th in 2005. 

Franklin and Miller both qualified in the 400m hurdles with personal-best times since arriving at Harvard. Franklin clocked a time of 56.65 to rank seventh overall and improve her second-place standing all-time in Harvard history. Miller was just behind in ninth place, posting a time of 57.22 (third all-time at Harvard). The pair also sit 2-3 in the Ivy League record book behind Brenda Taylor who holds both the Harvard and Ivy all-time records.

Veidis finished 10th overall in the 800m run to punch her ticket, crossing in 2:04.72.

Leakos stopped the clock at 29:54.20 to rank fifth overall in the 10K and earn his first trip to the final round during the outdoor season.

Junior Hannah Mayer smashed her own school record and even bested the Ivy League mark in the javelin, breaking the two week old Harvard standard by nearly two meters. Mayer registered a distance of 50.04m (164-2) to place eighth and advance to Eugene Mayer's performance in the women's javelin marks the 6th Ivy League record set by the Crimson during the 2013-14 indoor and outdoor track seasons.   

On day three, freshman Nikki Okwelogu launched the shot put a personal-best 16.05m (52-8) to place third in her flight and 16th overall. The throw bettered her own school record, breaking the mark set back at the Heptagonal Championships just three weeks ago.

In the 1500m run, junior Molly Renfer clocked a time of 4:22.56 to rank ninth in her heat and 18thoverall.  Renfer had reset the school record back on Thursday with her time of 4:18.78, taking it back from Veidis who had lowered it just 6 days after Renfer first broke it at the Heptagonal Championships.   

Rounding out the competition for the Crimson, the women's 4x4 relay squad finished in 3:37.55 to take 19th overall and sixth in their heat.

The seven qualified athletes will head to Eugene, Ore., with the competition for the NCAA Championships beginning on June 11 and ending on June 14