Okwelogu Nets All-America Honors in Shot Put, Three Student-Athletes Advance to Finals at NCAA Championships

Okwelogu Nets All-America Honors in Shot Put, Three Student-Athletes Advance to Finals at NCAA Championships

Okwelogu was an All-American in both the indoor and outdoor seasons (Sideline Photos/The Ivy League).

EUGENE, Ore. – On a rainy evening in the Pacific Northwest, No. 13 Harvard women's track and field stood out with top performances across the board on day one of the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field. Junior Nikki Okwelogu finished eighth in the shot put to score for Harvard, while freshman Gabby Thomas and seniors Autumne Franklin and Paige Kouba advanced to the finals in their respective events.

Okwelogu added a point towards the team score for the Crimson, finishing eighth in the shot put with a mark of 55-5.75 (16.91 meters). The Fresno, California native tallied her top toss on her third attempt of the meet, netting the thrower first team All-America honors with the performance. Okwelogu was also a first team All-America selection during the indoor season, where she placed third at the NCAA finals.

Thomas captured the victory in the final heat of the 200 meters, qualifying for the final round after besting her opponents with a time of 22.83 seconds. The first-year runner ended the day with the fifth-fastest time, and will become the first Harvard women's sprinter to place at an NCAA Championships meet on Saturday.

Franklin posted the fifth-fastest time in the 400 hurdles to reach the meet finals, taking first in her heat with a time of 56.09 seconds. The result secured a career-best finish for Franklin, who is racing in her fourth NCAA Championship. Junior Jade Miller crossed the stripe in 56.92 to finish 11th overall, clinching second-team All-America honors in the process. Miller has earned All-America status during each of her three seasons in Crimson.

Kouba advanced to the finals in the 3,000 meter steeplechase with a time of 9:57.59. The co-captain took third in her heat, sticking with the lead group for the entirety of the race to earn the automatic qualifying position. She will race in a field of 12 on Saturday for the NCAA title.

The 4x100 meter relay team of freshman Ngozi Musa, Miller, Franklin and Thomas ran to a time of 45.03 in the first running event of the meet to take 19th overall. The group made history as the first Ivy League women's relay squad to compete at an NCAA Championships meet.

Competing in the final event of the day, the 4x400 relay, Thomas (53.1), Franklin (51.5), senior Christi Scott (54.7) and Miller (56.7) teamed up to take seventh in their heat and 21st overall with a time of 3:36.46. The group was in second place halfway through the relay, led by strong legs from Thomas and Franklin.

Thomas, Franklin and Kouba will compete on Saturday, June 11 in the 200, 400 hurdles and 3,000 steeplechase, respectively, after their top results on the first day of the NCAA Championships. Additionally in her second event of the meet, Okwelogu will compete in the discus. The meet will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN3, with coverage slated to begin at 6 p.m.