Franklin's time of 54.65 was the fastest ever for a Harvard runner (Brian Panoff).
EUGENE, Ore. – Reaching the upper echelon of track and field in the United States, Autumne Franklin '16 and rising sophomore Gabby Thomas reached the finals at the USATF Olympic Trials, taking sixth and sixth, respectively, in the 400 meter hurdles and 200 meters.
A recent graduate, Franklin posted a time of 54.65 in the final round of the 400 hurdles, finishing sixth overall in her first Olympic Trials. A first team All-America honoree in the event, Franklin set a new Harvard and Ivy League record with her time and was one of two collegiate runners to advance to the finals, joining USC's Jaide Stepter. The program's record holder advanced to the finals after posting the third-fastest time in the semifinals, 55.40. Rising senior Jade Miller also competed in the event at the Trials, placing 20th with a time of 57.79 in the opening round.
Harvard's only qualifier in multiple events, Thomas ended up sixth in the 200 meters after crossing the stripe in 22.72 seconds. Also a first team All-America selection, Thomas won her heat in the opening round at 22.91 seconds, and followed up the performance with the fifth-best time in the semifinals, 22.72. Thomas got the meet started in the 100 meters, where she placed 26th in 11.35 seconds. She took sixth in her heat, posting a time that was 0.05 seconds off her career-best.
Franklin and Thomas are the first Harvard teammates to reach the finals of the Olympic trials in the same year. The last Crimson track and field alum to earn a spot on the United States' team was Brenda Taylor '01, who qualified for the 2004 games in Athens, Greece. Samyr Laine '06 was the last Harvard alum to qualify for the Olympics, competing in the long jump for Haiti at the 2012 games in London.
The Crimson also had a pair of distance runners in actions at the meet, Courtney Smith and Paige Kouba. A rising junior, Smith finished 22nd in the 10,000 meters with a time of 35:45.82. The program-record holder hovered in the top-10 for the first few laps before gradually fading towards the end of the race. Fresh off her first team All-America nod in the 3,000 steeplechase, Kouba crossed the stripe in 10:13.82 to finish 31st in the event. The recent graduate was the 10th-fastest in her heat, and the third-quickest collegiate runner in her group.
Thomas's PR – 22.47 (Harvard and Ivy League Record)
Franklin's PR – 54.65 (Harvard and Ivy League Record)