One of the defining characteristics of Harvard women’s track co-captain Brenda Taylor ’01 is that she knows how to finish strong.
Never was that more evident than at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Eugene, Ore. on Friday, when Taylor closed out her collegiate track career with a personal-best performance of 55.88 seconds in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles to win her first national title.
“It was the perfect race for me,” Taylor said. “I ran strong with the same mental preparation as always. The difference was that the second half of my race was much faster than it had ever been before.”
To complete an unprecedented weekend in the history of Harvard track and field, senior Dora Gyorffy convincingly won her first NCAA Outdoor title in the high jump with a peak performance of 1.90 meters. No one else in the country could clear any height past 1.84 meters.
“I’m pretty happy with my performance today,” Gyorffy said. “It’s a nice way to finish out my Harvard career.”
Taylor and Gyorffy’s victories earned Harvard a meet score of 20 points, which earned the team 12th place in the nation. The point total set a new record for Ivy track teams—male or female—at NCAAs. The national standing was second only to the 1989 Crimson women’s team, which placed ninth with 18 points.
USC, who won this year’s NCAA meet with 64 points, and Arizona, who placed third, were the only two schools other than Harvard to have two national champions.
Going into NCAAs, Taylor’s best time of 56.11 seconds from her Penn Relays victory placed her third on the national performance list behind Sheena Johnson of UCLA at 56.02 and University of Texas’ Angel Patterson at 56.09.