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Continuing its blazing outdoor season, the Harvard women’s track and field team set three new Ivy and five school records this weekend at the Raleigh Relays.
One week after recording a personal best in the 100 meter dash, freshman Gabby Thomas one-upped that with a winning time of 23.18 seconds in the 200-meter dash. Besides being a career-best and Ivy record, Thomas’s run was also good enough to automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympic Trials, which she is slated to run in this upcoming July.
The time is nearly a full second faster than the previous 200-meter Harvard record, set last year by Danielle Barbian ’15 and is also the NCAA’s third-fastest time this year.
“We’re thrilled with how Gabby is doing,” co-captain Paige Kouba said. “[The coaches] knew she was good in high school, but she hadn’t yet shown the world what she could do yet. We had a really great senior class graduate last year, and all the [freshmen] girls who came in this year have really filled that gap.”
Thomas also played a role in two other Ivy record-setting performances this weekend—the 4x100 meter and 4x200 meter relays. Both relays were run by the same lineup of Thomas, fellow freshman Ngozi Musa, junior Jade Miller, and senior Autumne Franklin.
The four-girl squad won the 4x100 meter relay in 44.56 seconds, three-tenths of a second better than their own old Ivy record of 44.85 seconds, which they set only last weekend. They also finished the 4x200 meter relay in 1:34.45 seconds, which was over a second faster than the old Ivy mark and five seconds faster than the previous Harvard record.
“That group [of four girls] is an amazing thing to watch,” Kouba said. “They’re showing that we’re not just good in the Ivy League—we have a national presence here, and we’re making that known.”
Kouba also had quite a meet of her own, cutting more than seven seconds off her personal record in her 1500-meter race. Her run was best among all the participating college students and was second overall, behind only professional PUMA athlete Caroline King.
Kouba’s time of 4:16.46 is also a new school record and second in the NCAA this year.
“I’m very happy to have a race like that that shows what I’m made of,” Kouba said. “The last year of my life has been about really dedicating time and effort and emotion to this sport, and it’s very fulfilling to have that come to fruition.
Elsewhere at the event, junior Jade Miller scored sixth in the 200 meter dash with a personal record of 24.23. Senior Kieran Gallagher scored two outdoor personal bests in the 1500 meter and 800 meter runs, earning 19th and seventh place finishes, respectively.
“This was a really good weekend for us, especially at this early point in the season,” Kouba said. “It’s very exciting to take a small group to a meet like this and just clean up.”
On the men’s side, sophomore Gabe Montague took home 11th in the 1500 meter run with a career-best time of 3:50.91, and senior Tom Purnell scored 25th place in the same race, with a time of 3:53.38.
“The guys who traveled did well and had some good performances,” sophomore Ben Huffman said. “It’s early in the season, though, so we’re not exactly where we want to be in terms of times.”
Huffman, on his way to a 38th-place finish, set a new personal best in the 5,000 meter run with a time of 14:25.53. Meanwhile, senior Chris Allen scored 42nd place in the 10,000 meter run with a time of 30:38.99.
“My personal experience was pretty standard for the rest of the team—solid performance, but definitely a lot of work to do,” Huffman said. “Looking forward, there’s a lot of potential for growth.”
—Staff writer Phillip Yu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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