Okwelogu, Smith To Compete at NCAA Indoor Championships

Okwelogu, Smith To Compete at NCAA Indoor Championships

Okwelogu was an All-American a year ago, Smith qualified for the 2015 NCAA Cross Country Championships (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Concluding the indoor season at the nation's most prestigious event, Harvard women's track and field will be represented by sophomore Courtney Smith and junior Nikki Okwelogu at the 2016 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Alabama.  The meet will be broadcast on ESPN3.

By the Numbers

  • 1: Harvard's women's team finished the indoor season as the top-ranked program in the Northeast region.
  • 4: Harvard's women earned its fourth-consecutive Ivy League crown Feb. 27-28.
  • 8: Eight Harvard records have fallen during the 2015-16 campaign- six on the women's side and two on the men's. The Crimson has also set five Ivy records.
  • 10: Courtney Smith owns the 10th-fastest time nationally in the 5,000 meters at 15:46.44.
  • 11: Nikki Okwelogu has tallied the 11th-farthest toss in the country in the shot put at 55-9.75 (17.01 meters).

Last Time Out
Competing for the final time before the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, Harvard track and field tallied a pair of record-breaking performances at the IC4A/ECAC Championships March 5-6 at Boston University.

Freshman Myles Marshall sprinted to a time of 1:01.63 in the 500 meters, breaking the Harvard record while posting the fastest mark in the country to this point. The Kingwood, Texas native's run was 1.38 seconds faster than the previous program standard, set in 1999 by Joseph Ciollo '99.

Senior Paige Kouba broke the Harvard and Ivy League records in the 1,000 meters after crossing the stripe with a time of 2:44.76. Kouba took second overall in the event, and her time was 1.95 seconds better than former Harvard record-breaking run by Erika Veidis '15 a year ago.

Full Recap: Marshall, Kouba Fly to School Records at IC4A/ECAC Championships

The Smith File
Sophomore Courtney Smith qualified for her second NCAA Championships of 2015-16 after also appearing in the cross country finale. The Westchester, Pennsylvania native darted to a time of 15:46.44 in the 5,000 meters at the Husky Classic Feb. 12, which is the 10th-best time in the country. Smith also set a new personal record in the 3,000 meters at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships (9:17.10) to place third overall. Both times are the second-best in Harvard history. 

The Okwelogu File
The school record holder in the shot put, junior Nikki Okwelogu enters the 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships as the No. 11 seed after her throw of 55-9.75 (17.01 meters) earned her third-consecutive crown at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. Okwelogu has won four of her six events this year, and has finished no lower than seventh this season. The Fresno, California native took sixth at the national event in 2015 to earn All-America honors.

When to Tune In
The women's 5,000 meters will be the first event with Harvard represented, and will kick off at approximately 8:25 p.m. The women's shot put begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Feature Video: Jackie Modesett & Community Service

Scouting the Field
In the 5,000 meters, Smith qualified as one of five student-athletes from a non-major conference school, and is the second-fastest among that group. Notre Dame's Molly Seidel enters the weekend as the top overall seed after posting a time of 15:19.64. Boise State's Allie Ostrander is the only other runner to break 15:30 on the season, and is the second seed at 15:21.85.

Okwelogu is one of 11 throwers to eclipse the 17-meter mark, and is one of two from a non-power five conference. Mississippi's Raven Saunders is the top overall seed by more than four feet (63-1.25, 19.23 meters), and Iowa State's Christina Hillman ranks second at 58-10, 17.93 meters. Okwelogu is the only qualifier from the northeast region.

Making History
Harvard's women's indoor track program has notched 22 All-America selections in school history by 14 student-athletes. Okwelogu is the only thrower to earn the high status, receiving the honor in 2015, while two former Crimson runners were All-Americans in the 5,000. Suzanne Jones '91 was a two-time honoree in 1989 and 1990 while Lindsey Scherf '08 was recognized in 2005.

Out in Front
Who holds the top marks for the Crimson this season?                                                                 


Men's Leader


Women's Leader



Max Mondelli


Gabby Thomas



Alexander Moore


Gabby Thomas



Alexander Moore


Autumne Franklin



Alexander Moore


Autumne Franklin



Myles Marshall


Jade Miller





Jade Miller



Myles Marshall


Paige Kouba



Kieran Tuntivate


Paige Kouba



Gabe Montague


Paige Kouba



Brandon Price


Courtney Smith



Brandon Price


Courtney Smith



Jay Hebert


Autumne Franklin


High Jump

Spencer Lemons


Raegan Nizdil


Pole Vault

Andrew Roney


Marlena Sabatino


Long Jump

Malcolm-Mason Rodriguez


Gabby Thomas


Triple Jump

Efe Uwaifo


Gabby Thomas


Shot Put

Julian Nunally


Nikki Okwelogu


Weight Throw

Josh Whitener





Mark Hill


Madison Hansen


*School Record

Ivy League Digital Network
The Ivy League Digital Network returns for a third season as the home for all live streaming and on-demand video content for each of the conference's eight institutions. Broadcast in full HD and featuring a live score bug and play-by-play and color commentary, the Ivy League Digital Network provides fans with unprecedented access to the Ancient Eight.

Multiple subscription options are available to fans, including school-specific and league-wide passes. To learn more about the Ivy League Digital Network or to sign-up today, click here.

Social Stream
Use the Social Stream on GoCrimson.com to stay connected with the Crimson on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube this year. The Social Stream brings the conversation from all four platforms into one convenient location, allowing fans of all Harvard Athletics teams to monitor the action in real time.

Follow @HarvardTrack_XC on Twitter for updates during the competition, and use #GoCrimson to interact with other fans.

Recapping Cross Country
Sophomore Courtney Smith led the charge during the cross country season, qualifying for the 2015 NCAA Championships after placing fifth in the NCAA Northeast Regional. The Westchester, Pennsylvania native was Harvard's top finisher in every race, and earned All-Ivy League first team and USTFCCCA All-Region honors. The women's team captured its first HYP victory since 1995.

The men's team was led by senior Thomas Purnell, who earned the individual championship at HYP before pacing the Crimson at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. Senior Chris Allen finished the men's season with a second-place result at the IC4A Championships in New York.

Aye Aye, Captain
Seniors James Lim and Thomas Purnell and Junior Andrew Roney were elected captains for the 2015-16 season on the men's side, while the women's squad will be led by seniors Autumne Franklin and Paige Kouba. All four are in their first season as captains of the Harvard track and field team.

At the Helm
Jason Saretsky is in his 10th season as the William W. "Bill" McCurdy Director of Track and Field /Cross Country, and during his tenure the Crimson women have tallied four indoor Ivy League Championships. Saretsky's tenure has seen 21 All-America performances, 30 NCAA qualifiers and 89 Heptagonal champions.

What's Next?
Harvard's indoor season comes to a close following the weekend's action. The Crimson will shift its focus to the outdoor slate, where it opens in Houston March 18-19.