Quartet of Track and Field Athletes Punch Ticket to NCAA Championships

Quartet of Track and Field Athletes Punch Ticket to NCAA Championships

Franklin set a Harvard and Ivy League record in the 400 hurdles (Sideline Photos/The Ivy League).

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On the second day of the NCAA East Region championships in Jacksonville, Harvard track and field had four student-athletes punch tickets to the NCAA finals in Eugene, Oregon. Seniors Autumne Franklin and Paige Kouba and juniors Jade Miller and Nikki Okwelogu tallied top results to secure the title meet selection.

Franklin posted the meet's fastest time in the 400 hurdles, crossing the stripe in 55.12 seconds to break both the Ivy League and Harvard records in the event. The co-captain topped the record previously held for 15 years by Brenda Taylor '01. Junior Jade Miller also advanced to the finals with the seventh-fastest time (55.75), setting a new Harvard-best. The top times give the duo berths in the NCAA championships for the third-straight season together, while Franklin will make her fourth appearance in Eugene.

Okwelogu punched her ticket to the NCAA Championships with the fifth-farthest throw in the discus (179-7; 54.75m). The junior took third in her flight, notching her top throw on her second attempt of the event. The school-record holder earned first team All-America status in the shot put during the indoor season, and will compete on Saturday in the event for her second berth to the NCAA finals.

Kouba tallied the fourth-fastest time in the 3,000 steeplechase to qualify for her first NCAA Championship meet. Crossing the line in 9:59.10, the school-record holder finished second in her heat to earn an automatic berth to her hometown event.

"It was exciting to see the four Crimson ladies advance to Eugene," said Jason Saretsky, the William W. 'Bill' McCurdy Director of Track & Field/Cross Country. "I'm confident they will represent Harvard well at the NCAA Championships and I'm looking forward to seeing some more student-athletes get through tomorrow."

Freshman Gabby Thomas took to the blocks in the 200 meters, and advanced to the quarterfinal round with the meet's fifth-quickest time. The Ivy League and program record holder in the event, Thomas crossed the line in 22.91 seconds as the runner-up in her heat. She will compete for the chance to go to the NCAA Championships on Saturday.

Junior Brett Henderson competed in the javelin for the Crimson, finishing with a mark of 189-10 (57.87m). The appearance was his first at the NCAA regional level.

The NCAA East Region championships continue on Saturday with Harvard athletes competing in the men's 5,000 meters and triple jump and the women's shot put, 200 meters, 4x100 relay and 4x400 relay.