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Okwelogu, Smith Crowned First Team All-America at NCAA Indoor Championships

Okwelogu, Smith Crowned First Team All-America at NCAA Indoor Championships

The duo gave Harvard a 30th-place finish in the team standings (Gil Talbot).

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – On the final weekend of the indoor track and field season, Harvard junior Nikki Okwelogu and sophomore Courtney Smith took third and eighth in the shot put and 5,000 meters, respectively, to earn first team All-America honors. The duo joins an elite group of All-Americans, with Okwelogu writing her name on the list for the second time.

Okwelogu earned the bronze with a career-best throw of 57-11.25 (17.66 meters), crushing her own Harvard and Ivy League records in the process by 17.25 inches. Her toss was 1.25 inches shy of the winning mark posted by Kansas State's Dani Winters. The junior's best toss came in the fourth round, giving her the lead until the fifth series of throws. Okwelogu entered the final round as the second seed. The Fresno, California native improved on her sixth-place finish from a year ago to claim her second-straight first team All-America honor.

Smith ran to an eighth-place result in the 5,000 meters to garner a first team All-America nod with a time of 16:04.86. The NCAA Championships appearance was the second of 2015-16 for Smith, as the Westchester, Pennsylvania native also qualified for the NCAA event in cross country. The sophomore persevered late in the race, moving up three spots over the final 2,000 meters. Smith became the 15th student-athlete to earn All-America honors for the women's indoor team, and the third to accomplish the feat in the 5,000 meters.

"I am incredibly proud of both Courtney and Nikki," said Jason Saretsky, the William W. 'Bill' McCurdy Director of Track & Field/Cross Country. "They had fantastic indoor campaigns and performed marvelously on the biggest stage. This was a great way to cap off the season."

The duo combined to score seven team points, six from Okwelogu and one from Smith, to help the Crimson place 30th as a team. The finish was the best among Ivy programs.

The Harvard track and field team has finished its indoor season, and travels south to open the outdoor season at the Texas Southern Relays and TCU Invitational.

 
PRINCIPLED LEADERSHIP, ACADEMIC INTEGRATION AND COMPETITIVE EXCELLENCE