There is a strange relationship between track’s horizontal heroes (sprinters and jumpers) and the wind. It can help them fly like never before, but it can also make their best performance a footnote.
In earning her fourth career All-America accolade on Saturday at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., Columbia senior triple jumper Nadia Eke experienced both sides of that relationship. Hovering near the cut line for additional attempts after two leaps, she took advantage of a strong wind to post a 13.46-meter effort (44-2) to rise into second place and nearly assure her of another top-eight finish. Yet that helpful wind also rendered the effort “illegal” for record purposes, meaning that she was still behind Jeomi Maduka’s all-time Ivy record of 43-9.
She’d get close again — a wind-legal 43-5 — with her fifth jump of the day, leaving just one last chance in her brilliant career to topple Maduka’s mark, which was set in 2009. And her final hop, step and jump as a Lion measured out at 43-10… but the wind was again deemed to be well above the allowable speed (+3.3 meters per second).
But missed records couldn’t outweigh her fourth-place finish behind Georgia freshman Keturah Orji, Auburn sophomore Marshay Ryan and Vanderbilt sophomore Simon Charley.
“It was a good day for everything to come together,” Eke said. “I had a bone bruise on my heel that had been bothering me, so to muster up the strength to get a personal best out there was a huge relief … The jump definitely gives me hope for the future. It wasn’t my best jump from a technical aspect, but in due time everything else will come together.”
Sounds as if her jumping career is far from over even if her Columbia career is.
Meanwhile, a runner with a lot of time remaining in her college career — Harvard sophomore Jade Miller — earned her first top-eight performance in the 400-meter hurdles. Crossing the line in 56.68 to take fifth in the final, Miller became the League’s first intermediate hurdle All-American since Crimson Brenda Taylor, who won the NCAA title in 2001 and became an Olympic finalist in 2004.
“Jade competed very well against a world class field,” said Harvard associate head coach Kebba Tolbert. “She had a great warm-up and executed a great race. She represented Harvard and the Ivy League superbly. I am very proud of her — she earned this finish with her year of hard work and resilient attitude. Our goal is to come back to Hayward Field next year and have two in the finals.”
Miller’s teammate — rising senior Autumne Franklin — missed qualifying for the final by about a sixth-of-a-second on Thursday.
Three other Ivies closed out the college season in Eugene on Saturday. Dartmouth’s Kaitlin Whitehorn was tied for 12th in the high jump (5-9 3/4), Brown freshman Josie Natrasevschi was 16th in the discus throw (168-7) and Big Green junior Dana Giordano struggled in the heat to finish 23rd in the 5,000-meter run (17:12.54).